With no formal Opposition elected to the Tobago House of Assembly, Chief Secretary Orville London is being strongly advised to listen to the opposition voices on the streets and social media.
Political analyst Dr Winford James said yesterday that Monday's clean sweep at the polls by the People's National Movement (PNM) was a loss for democracy, and in a democratic system all voices must be heard. He said this must be done "if only to achieve balance in the decision-making process of those who lead."
James said there could be a hegemonic situation if one party were allowed to always prevail. He said one must now decide if the traditional party position would prevail in the Assembly, or assemblymen would be allowed to speak and vote on conscience. In a telephone interview, James said there would still be "an informal opposition in the population and that opposition will have its say on issues that are going to arise."
He added: "Even if there is no formal opposition in the Assembly, there will be an informal opposition in the population outside of the Assembly." He noted that even if there were an opposition in the Assembly it would not be enough as the Government, with the majority of districts, always had its way.
The election result heightened the need for constitutional reform, he said, "to ensure the voices of different groups in the society are heard and decisions are informed by those voices." He said he was not speaking about autonomy but structures within to allow people's voices to count when major national issues were being discussed. He advised that TOP leader Ashworth Jack has no option but to resign.
He added: "It was an election for him to win. He lost it by wide margins and he should resign." He said the TOP lost the election because Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar "took over the TOP's campaign from the TOP." Last week's Sunday Guardian reported James as saying the TOP could only win alone and not as part of the ruling coalition.
"It became contaminated by association with the PP," he added. London has to give serious consideration to concerns raised by the TOP after his election victory, he said, warning that the Chief Secretary should not move to victimise and exclude those who did not support the PNM in the campaign.
James suggested London should use the situation to build democracy on the island.