Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My 5 suggestions for improving the Jamaican Political Process

Traditionally, as a Christian believer, I have been ambivalent about the role that I should play in the political and electoral process of a country. My positions on the matter have fluctuated from non-participation to participating as a worker. In addition, I have also fluctuated in beliefs as to whether or not Christians should run for political office. However, my current position (which can change due to personal experience) is that participation in the political process is currently the only way to safeguard rights and freedoms gained from centuries where Christians were once the persecuted minority. Biblical precedents for participation in public and political sphere include public presentation to authorities by the apostles of not only what they believe, but also what they have experienced and witnessed. For example, Acts 5:17-32, contains a narrative of how the apostles were instructed to publicly declare their lifestyle in the public sphere. So if not to run for office, at best, the Christian should share his or her personal experiences in the public sphere with the intent of it impacting the authorities. Given this precedent, one of the ways that Christians can make a statement is to vote and perhaps testify of why they are voting and the personal experiences that lead to their voting.

Nonetheless, for this post, I will not go that far. Rather, I will limit my statement to five things that I feel will make Jamaica's electoral process better. All of these have come out of my experience and reflections of this 2016 Jamaican electoral process:

  1. Mandatory electoral debates that are put on by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica that include third party candidates. This way, no party can opt out of being asked pertinent questions by the media and population. This will give us the people the opportunity to evaluate our leaders and political candidates by their performance in responding to questions and issues.
  2. Separate the Member of Parliament (MP) vote from the vote for Prime Minister (PM). One may wish to reward his or her MP with another term for the good work done or, at least, the effort while at the same time may be disapproving of the PM's performance (or vice versa). Why are we forced to have one vote for two persons to represent us? 
  3. Declaration of the financial contributions to each political party helps. Especially funding by the overseas or foreign donors and monied interest. 
  4. Improve the enumeration process so that it is easy, quick and more efficient. For this, I recommend setting up an appointment system where persons wishing to be enumerated call and negotiate an appointed time. This way, the person arrives promptly at the scheduled time and does not have to wait, but is dealt with within 30 minutes. Clearly, the process must respect people's time so that busy professionals will be more willing to be enumerated.
  5. Perhaps a bit idealistic? Air-conditioned shuttle bus transport to and from the polling stations on the day of the election? Especially for the poorer classes that do not have the fares or personal transport to visit the polling stations. Mark you, they can walk, but considering that they may have to stand in line to exercise their franchise in the warm Jamaican sun, we could lessen the time and sun exposure involved in the voting process.

1 comment:

FIONA said...

Wonderful insight.