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AG: Election reform will empower voters

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has dismissed mounting public criticism of sweeping changes to the electorial process proposed in the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014. In a telephone interview yesterday evening Ramlogan said the “revolutionary” ammendments to the Constitution would serve to empower citizens by increasing their role in the elections of MPs and the overall government. 

“These changes do not deprive any citizen of their fundamental rights. In fact, it seeks to add to those rights by giving them the ability to not only hire their MPs but also fire them,” he added. Ramlogan also said the provision dealing with the right of recall for MPs who have served three years of their elected terms, would introduce a new dynamic in local politics. “The right of recall is a sword of damocles that will hang over the heads of MPs to keep them in check and ensure they perform,” he explained.

Refering to the segment of the legislation dealing with runoff polls for candidates who fail to attain 50 per cent of votes cast in general elections, Ramlogan said that would ensure that both government and Opposition MPs do not neglect parts of their constituencies. He noted that once passed by Parliament, the provision would boost small political parties, whose minority support would be a deciding factor in a runoff poll between the top two candidates in a constituency. 

“It is plainly more democratic to have an MP, who gained the support of the majority of his constituents as opposed to one who was elected with a minority vote,” he added. Ramlogan praised the proposed limit of two terms for prime ministers and fixed dates for elections, two main considerations in the draft legislation. “The fixed dates for elections will bring certainty and allow for proper planning. Long gone will be the days of election by ambush,” he said.

When asked whether he believed that the radical changes should have required a special majority vote to be passed by Parliament, Ramlogan said no, as he claimed he had already consulted several world renowned constitutional experts on the issue.