Jamaican Politics & Governance
Caricom, Jamaican economy, Jamaican politics
Interesting commentary Norman. Low-skilled jobs that help with preserving the environment can provide some short term employment and would be useful for long tern sustainability. However there needs to be a serious look at human resources and linkages among the economic sectors, especially tourism. Jamaica becoming a full member of the CCJ and a republic are low hanging fruit that should be plucked. Let us not just look on, but also contribute to a better future.
Norman, a good take on the PNP victory, especially the low turnout. Trevor Munroe just a few days ago made a strong appeal to both Jamaican political parties to ‘dismantle’ their ‘garrison’ communities if they wanted Jamaica to make progress on all fronts – the political yes, but the positive impact this would have on the economic and the social. I thought this point is particularly important for Jamaica and Prof Munroe’s speech was a timely challenge to the two parties and deserves to be repeated until some action is evident especially given the tremendous loss of life not only with the Dudus episode but over the decades.
“Early reports are that nearly one-half of the eligible electors did not vote; and that the PNP secured 53 percent of the popular vote. If these reports are correct, the PNP’s 65 percent of seats in Parliament is based on the votes of only 27 percent of Jamaica”™s qualified electors. As some commentators have observed , this points to a substantial “˜participation deficit”™ in Jamaica”™s governance and “˜confidence deficit”™ in Jamaica”™s democracy. The new Administration will ignore this only at its peril…”
This is nothing new, nor is it surprising. The latest EOJ figures say 52% of registered electors voted. So the PNP’s majority is based on 27.8% of the electorate. But then the previous JLP government’s majority (50.27% with a 61.46% turnout) was based on only 30.9% of the electorate. The 2002 PNP government’s majority was based on 30.8% of the electorate. Before that the 1997 government’s majority was based on 36.7% of the electorate. In fact the last time any government was based on a true majority of the registered electorate (to say nothing of the total eligible voting age population) was in 1993 when the PNP government got 86.7% of the vote in a 66.74% turnout (so it was based on 57.86% of the electorate).
So it could be said that there has been a confidence and participation deficit for the past 14 years under both JLP and PNP administrations. Neither party has inspired much confidence. Indeed in this last election the JLP garnered the support of only 24.7% of the electorate. Meanwhile 47.4% of the registered electorate and possibly hundreds or even thousands of unregistered persons show little to no confidence in either party to bother to vote. As had been remarked to me recently, if any third party managed to tap into this disenchanted plurality (and even gain half of their votes) they would put serious pressure on both the JLP and PNP (and possibly even put both of them in Opposition if it got enough votes).
This coupled with the St Lucian result and the close result in Guyana seem to indicate that there is a change mood in the region. While the low turnout is definitely cause for concern, it would be important to get a picture of whether the voters list is relatively clean. In St Lucia, the low turnout seemed to strongly reflect the problems with a voters list, which is almost close to the size of the total population according to the latest census. The St Lucia voters list contains large numbers of St Lucians abroad as well as the deceased. For St Lucian migrants abroad to vote they would have had to be resident for at least three months, prior to the election and the election was called with less than three months notice. I do not have a sense of the reliability of the Jamaican list. It would be useful to learn whether observers witnessed what seemed to be a heavy turnout. The swing also suggests that many JLP supporters stayed home and new young voters likely swung towards the PNP. As in the case of Kenny Anthony and his team, all of this still means that Portia and her team will ignore the popular disaffection at their peril. Happy New Year to all.
The Electoral Office just confirmed that 52.65% of the registered voters did participate, on a clean voters list. A total of 1.648,000 are registered to vote. This list was released on Nov 30, with an additional approximately 42,000 new voters who would have been registered earlier in 2011. Both political parties, the Electoral Office (EOJ) and the Electoral Commission of Jamaica all check and validate this lists before they are printed and made public. So, yes, the list is clean.
Initial analyses are that the JLP underestimated the deep “body blows” which the body politic suffered at the hands of the Golding government over its handling of the extradition matter, via the publicly transmitted Commission of Enquiry into the matter, and more recently. revelations related to the Chinese-funded Jamaica Development Infrastructure Plan (building of roads) – over-expenditure, corruption – which had been widely publicized. Matters of trust, arrogance, deception were openly discussed, and identified as major problems facing the JLP, and would face a new PNP government as well, if they did not act differently. Outgoing PM Holness himself said in his concession speech “obviously the Jamaican people still have some concerns about the JLP”. (I am paraphasing – this more-or-less is what he said). The JLP thought that the Youth Factor, represented by Holness, and the shine it brought to the JLP in the few weeks after his swearing-in would have overcome the negatives mentioned, but this wilted under the pressure of all the above. Much of their ads – radio and TV – focused almost entirely on Holness alone, the person who would save Jamaica, leading the process of better and different politics…this backfired…words and actions of some JLP leaders and candidates were out of sync with the new kind of poltiics which Holness was presenting as the way forward…many mixed messages were sent.
The OAS preliminary findings referred to a slow poll in some areas, but overall the system did show that the system worked better than previously, with no real problems. They also noted that the EOJ has improved in their execution of general elections. It was a 28 member team.
And quite definitely, Portia and her team will ignore the popular disaffection at their peril. The PNP will certainly have to not only show but act firmly to demonstrate their seriousness in addressing not only the economic challenges mentioned by Norman, but also the range of governance issues which were previously not addressed.
No, this is not a new phenomenon, but the extent of the phenomenon this time around, and the direction of change over time, is surely significant. Your own figures (I have reproduced them in a little table below) show a declining trend over the past 18 years in (a) voter turnout, and (b) the percentage of registered voters secured by the winning Party. Two figures in particular stand out (a) the 8.54% drop in voter turnout in 2011 compared with 2007, which, given the issues in this election (governance, corruption, the economy) suggest widespread apathy, and (ii) the massive drop in the percentage of registered electors secured by the winning Party when you compare 2011 to 1993–27.8% compared to 57.8%.
I would agree that once you cross the threshold of 50% (i.e. of registered voters secured by the winning Party) which was crossed in 1997, and especially when you go below the 40% and the 30% mark, this indicates widespread disaffection with the political system among the population and begins to call into question the legitimacy and the credibility (as distinct from the legality and contitiutionality) of governments that are elected to office with these numbers. How far can one speak of an authentically functionong democracy in these circumstances?
On the other hand I am not sure it would be easy for a third party to tap into the ‘disenchanted pluralty’ as your friend seems to be implying. The chequered history of third parties in Jamaica suggests otherwise. I think this is may be easier in a Latin American-type Presidential system, in which the chief executive is directly elected by popular vote. In this system a popular candidate can carve political space to rally the masses against the established political parties, creating, as it were, an independent political base; as Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela in 1999, when there was huge popular disaffection with the two main political parties.
In any case, the situation revealed by the election turnout in Jamaica is not healthy. It calls for some serious reflection on reforming our system of governance and the nature of our politics.
Percent turnout/Percent of registered voters secured by victorious Party
(Figures extracted from Jon’s comment)
the turnouts for 2002 and 1997 were 59.04% and and 65.22% respectively.
And far from the turnout only declining over the past 18 years, it has been declining for far longer. I originally drew my figures from the EOJ’s older, easier to navigate version of their website. See here: http://web.archive.org/web/20090506045830/http://www.eoj.com.jm/elections/elect_sum.htm
From that website though it says the PNP secured 83.3% of the vote in 1997 which would have given them a majority from 54.32% of the electorate. That doesn’t sound right though even though it from the EOJ website. So checking again on their updated website I found the correct figures. see here: http://www.eoj.com.jm/cms/uploads/ElectionResults/Parliamentary/19971218generalsummary.pdf
The PNP got 55.74% of the vote in 1997 or a majority from 36.35% of the electorate. And from the summary for 1993: http://www.eoj.com.jm/cms/uploads/ElectionResults/Parliamentary/19930330generalsummary.pdf – the PNP got 59.4% out of a 60.28% turnout (so a majority with 35.8% of the electorate). The last election in which a majority was secured from a majority of the electorate might well have been 1980 as in 1989 (http://www.eoj.com.jm/cms/uploads/ElectionResults/Parliamentary/19890209generalsummary.pdf) the PNP won 56.03% of the vote with a 78.38% turnout (a majority from 43.9% of the electorate).
Updating your table, you are still right; there is a decline in voter turnout and percentage of registered voters secured by the winning party:
In 1980 the turnout was 86.10% (the highest ever) and since then it has steadily fallen:
1983 – 28.94%
1989 – 78.38%
1993 – 60.28%
When talking about percentages though, we have to bear other factors in mind. For instance, despite an 8.54% drop in voter turnout for 2011 compared to 2007 there were actually MORE voters participating in the 2011 election (867,000) than in 2007 (821,000). The number of persons registered increased greatly between 2007 and 2011 and I suspect it may have more to do with previously unregistered persons becoming registered (and then probably not bothering to vote) rather than various cohorts of 18-year olds becoming registered upon reaching voting age. The margin of victory also increased, as whereas the JLP won with 5-6,000 votes in 2007, the PNP won by a clear 57,000+ votes in 2011 (with the JLP losing about 6,000 votes from the 2007 total). The margin is even larger than in 2002 when the PNP won with 35,000+ votes.
“On the other hand I am not sure it would be easy for a third party to tap into the “˜disenchanted pluralty”™ as your friend seems to be implying. The chequered history of third parties in Jamaica suggests otherwise.”
Most third parties in Jamaica have hardly made a serious effort to win over the electorate. They seem to want to operate like the established parties even though they don’t have the resources of the established parties. For instance at one time I’m sure the NDM used to try to field candidates in all 60 constituencies which was a waste of time, effort and money. There is no way the NDM was ever going to win in certain constituencies so they should have focused all their effort on the constituencies where they had the best chance. Similarly the NNC was formed shortly after the Tivoli incident and in the very first poll it was shown as having 7% support compared to the JLP’s 14% support. That is no mean feat for a party literally coming out of nowhere to get half as much support as one of the firmly established parties. But what did the NNC do with that initial vote of confidence by people polled? Well they threw it away. Didn’t even come out with a manifesto, didn’t canvas potential voters, didn’t do anything really other than that one little protest in Half-Way Tree where they chained themselves to the clock-tower. They were jokers and people saw them as such and treated them accordingly. And unsurprisingly the NNC then “boycotted” the election.
“I think this is may be easier in a Latin American-type Presidential system, in which the chief executive is directly elected by popular vote. In this system a popular candidate can carve political space to rally the masses against the established political parties, creating, as it were, an independent political base; as Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela in 1999, when there was huge popular disaffection with the two main political parties.”
I disagree. Our politics is VERY much like those Latin American presidential systems already as our parties are very much leader-focused. People will vote for a party because of its leader with the specific candidate coming in as a secondary consideration which may or may not override the primary consideration of who the leader is (it depends on just how badly the local candidate or the leader of the party are viewed). The problem is that it isn’t our system which is broken per se, but the people in it. I guarantee that if you give these clowns a presidential system to run we would not have better governance. Systems are only as good as the people operating them. But it is much easier to attack a system and recommend a change in the system than to institute a change in society and political discourse. Jamaica is literally ripe for a third party to come in an shake up the system, even if it is initially by just winning one or two seats and getting a voice in parliament. Such a change can happen but for it to occur you need to have a third party which is serious about getting its message out and actually acts like a political party. As it stands most of the “third parties” in Jamaica are really more like advocacy groups. That’s why people leave them (like Christopher Tufton) for established parties. A third party gaining traction won’t be easy (and my friend never said it would be easy), but it can be done with some good ol’ hard work. For instance I’ve NEVER seen a flier from any third party yet – why is that? How much does it cost to print a few fliers? or to put up ads on facebook and youtube? But some simple analysis should begin to show third parties where to start (the constituencies which swing between the JLP and PNP each election and which are not safe seats or outright garrisons) and from there they could work on mobilizing the demographic that has become disenchanted (which primarily seems to be a lot of young, university educated persons as well as young, destitute persons who never see any benefit from voting). Simply showing up and having your name on the ballot with people having no idea who you are won’t work. Once they work on getting their message out (house to house of course) and the polls reflect growing interest then they can push to be included in the debates which will give them even wider prominence. What they must never do is give up too soon simply because they haven’t seen almost magical overnight progress. Life isn’t easy and politics shouldn’t be an easier.
“In any case, the situation revealed by the election turnout in Jamaica is not healthy. It calls for some serious reflection on reforming our system of governance and the nature of our politics.”
I agree to some extent. As I said before it is less the system and more the nature of our politics. Don Anderson did a poll earlier this year which showed a much larger turnout in a theoretical contest between a Phillips-led PNP and a Holness-led JLP (with 49% supporting a PNP under Phillips and 38% or 39% supporting a JLP under Holness). This compared with his poll results for a Portia/PNP and Golding/JLP where the figures were 38% and 15%. When it came to Portia v Holness the figures in most polls ended up being about even at 36-39% each.
New people (not necessarily younger people) with fresh ideas and vision will be what gets the voter turnout back up. A lot of young people I know have simply stated they feel a disconnect with the present lot of politicians (one joke even doing the rounds was “electile dysfunction”).
thanks for the additional data, they are most revealing and as you say confirm the long-term trend of declining voter turnout/voter support for the winning Party.
Of course, Jamaican politics is as personality-centred as Latin American, has been so from the outset (“I will follow Bustmante til I die”–1945; “Have faith in (Norman) Manley–The Man With The Plan”–1962) . My point is that in a directly elected Presidential system with a culture such as ours, there is greater opportunity for a charismatic ‘outsider’ to break into the political party duopoly, than in a parliamentary system. The reason for this is that in the former system, the entire country can in effect be treated as single constituency; and the political impact of the personality of the charismatic leader can be maximised. The capture of executive office becomes a two-person popularity contest to a much greater degree than in the parliamentary system; where the Parties, while trading on the personalities of their respective leaders, still have to convince voters constituency by constituency; and have to field credible local candidates in all constituencies That is why parliamentary elections are never won 100 percent by either side, even when the support for the winning party is overwhelming. It is for this reason that Eddie Seaga never supported Michael Manley’s proposal for a directly elected Executive Presidency, as he knrew that in a straight contest Manley would always win (which is also why the PNP and JLP have so far failed to agree on the form that Republican status should take in Jamaica). I believe its also one of the reasons why the founding fathers of the American Republic interposed an Electoral College between the voters and the election of the President–a kind of insurance against what they saw as the risk of ‘irresponsible populism’ (which is also why a U.S president can be elected with a minority of the popular vote).
I take your point that we haven’t seen the kind of determination and consistency that is needed for a third party to become a credible political force in Jamaica. The organisational and financial obstacles are formidable, but I would be the last person to say that because it hasn’t been done in the past, it can’t be done in the future. However I would make two observations.
First, a third force in Jamaica would have to start as a social and/or political movement and only become a political Party when the people “will it”, so to speak–i.e. when it is has garnered sufficient breadth and depth of support, and developed sufficient organisational expereince and maturity, that its transformation into a political Party with the aim of contesting elections to capture state power is widely regarded as the logical next step. You cannot start with a Party, like the NNC or even the NDM, because you not only encounter not the usual issues, you have to deal with the suspicion and cynicism that the general public has developed regarding political Parties in general. You have to do the spadework and build up to it over a period of yearsm (and even when you are using fliers/Facebook/YouTube).
My second observation is that even if and when a third Party becaomes viable; we would still need reforms in our governance system, to give ordinary people a greater and more continuous say in how they are governed and in decision-making generally. Democracy cannot be reduced to the mere act of voting (or the having the right to vote) once every five years; and our ‘democratic’ system is broken, as more and more people are voting by not voting. For example the strengthening of Local Government, the use of Community Councils as vehicles of community-level involvement in monitoring and implementation, and the reform of Parliament to give it greater independence from the Executive and to provide space for civil society participation; all need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The Year of the 50th Anniversary of Independence should be used as the opportunity for a wholesale review of the Westminster/YesMinister system bequeathed us by the former colonial masters; and to begin to devise a system of our own that better serves us.
Jamaica is not an isolated country in the international community of nations. It is part of it. The common people have scored important victories in 2011. The economic crisis that has crippled Greece and Italy has awakened these folks. The people of Russia have sent a message to the world that the legacy of October 1917 is very much alive. Jamaica is no exception, sooner or later, we as a nation will recognize the contributions made by the activists of the 1970″™s, not limited only to Michael Manley and George Beckford and the New World comrades. While the Jamaican past is prologue, the memories of slavery and emancipation is in the present. It may well be to start a discussion on China and India now, or, if we are courageous enough, Cuba.
“My point is that in a directly elected Presidential system with a culture such as ours, there is greater opportunity for a charismatic “˜outsider”™ to break into the political party duopoly, than in a parliamentary system. The reason for this is that in the former system, the entire country can in effect be treated as single constituency; and the political impact of the personality of the charismatic leader can be maximised. The capture of executive office becomes a two-person popularity contest to a much greater degree than in the parliamentary system;”
I would have to disagree here. In most presidential systems there is hardly ever a 3-way race. You have two established candidates (plus some forgettable also-rans) who usually end up in a run-off. I find it hard to imagine that simply using the Latin American model we would find a third candidate suddenly becoming any more viable as they would stand about as much chance of winning the presidency as current parties do in winning a single seat – i.e. zero chance unless they worked really hard. Indeed it could well be harder as instead of targeting their efforts by trying to convince at most 8-10,000 persons in a given constituency to vote for them to give them a voice in parliament, under the presidential system they would have to convince at least 400,000 persons to support their candidate across the island if they stand the ghost of a chance of winning. Even at its height the NDM managed about 20-30,000 votes (had they been more targeted in their approach they should have won at least 2 seats). Where it is easier for a third party to break into parliament is in a proportional representation system but as shown by New Zealand, you don’t HAVE to be a Latin American style presidential republic to have proportional representation. In fact given how disastrous directly elected Prime Minister worked out in the only country to have tried it (Israel) I think the current system or one which utilizes proportional representation is the one which suits Jamaica – i.e. no separate and direct election of the national leader. I know persons who wanted Holness and the JLP to win but who did not want their local JLP candidate to win. IF that had happened though under a theoretical presidential republic we might have had a President Holness with a House composed of a PNP majority. That’s a recipe for deadlock as happens in the United States and happened in Israel when they elected the Prime Minister separately. In Latin America though the president tends to come from the same party as the majority in parliament (hence no deadlock). Elsewhere in the Commonwealth we have systems which are republics but which ensure that the leader of the country is also a part of the majority party (or the party with the most votes) – in Guyana, Botswana and South Africa the election of President (and Prime Minister in the case of Guyana) is tied in with the election of the parliament. They could be styled as “parliamentary republics” and if we must change the system for some reason that is the model I would advocate as a basis (though I wouldn’t follow Guyana’s model exactly as it has lead to a minority government – there should be scope for coalitions in a proportional representation system). This would also save a lot of money by the way as there would not have to be two separate elections.
“First, a third force in Jamaica would have to start as a social and/or political movement and only become a political Party when the people ” will it”, so to speak”“i.e. when it is has garnered sufficient breadth…..”
I never thought about that, but thinking about it now, I agree entirely. But as you pointed out the distrust people have developed for political parties would also mean that until a third party established itself via this route you have outlined then under ANY system we would see relatively low voter turnout and negligible support for any party other than the PNP and JLP. If lots of people aren’t voting now because they distrust all political parties (viewing the JLP and PNP as two sides of the same coin and being full of crooks, while seeing third parties as jokes) they are unlikely to vote for the same parties under a different system.
“we would still need reforms in our governance system, to give ordinary people a greater and more continuous say in how they are governed and in decision-making generally. Democracy cannot be reduced to the mere act of voting (or the having the right to vote) once every five years; and our “˜democratic”™ system is broken, as more and more people are voting by not voting. For example the strengthening of Local Government, the use of Community Councils as vehicles of community-level involvement in monitoring and implementation, and the reform of Parliament to give it greater independence from the Executive and to provide space for civil society participation; all need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. ”
I would agree to all except the last part about giving the parliament greater independence from the Executive. That’s just copying the American model which itself has lead to large levels of distrust for the political system (I think the latest poll had only 4% having confidence in Congress). In fact I’m sure there were studies done or at least one study done which showed that parliamentary systems (whether monarchical or republican) were more stable and achieved better results than the US-style system. Our problem is not that we don’t have American style separation of powers, but that we don’t have honest, decent people in government. When we have to start considering binding their hands even more and more when other countries with similar systems work just fine, it begins to look as if we can’t govern ourselves because we don’t exhibit the self-discipline and morality necessary to ensure effective governance. Eventually what will happen as reforms to the system continue to fail in the face of the same, stale and corrupt politicians is that we will eventually be calling for reforms that look little different from the Crown Colony unrepresentative government that used to run the island (perhaps it will start by calling for UN oversight of our elections and maybe some kind of “High Representative” like what they have in Bosnia).
I certainly agree though that local governance and community councils would need to be strengthened. A part of this would have to be giving out local taxation power to these bodies so they could get their own independent revenue (and concurrently cutting some of the national taxes). There is little point in assigning local governments the responsibility for parochial roads and cleaning drains but then leaving them dependent on the central government for money to carry out these tasks. Other cities around the world institute their own local tax, so I see no reason why Kingston and Mobay at least don’t do so.
I would go a step further and advocate for a full federation of the West Indies so that power is even more dispersed at different levels (the community council, local government/parish council and municipal level, the county level in Jamaica and Guyana, the provincial level and the federal level). There would then be savings in spheres such as diplomatic representation and provincial MPs can concentrate more on local issues while voters would then have at least 4 representatives for a given area who they could hold accountable for implementing progressive measures in those areas (as well as providing the potential for competition as voters may choose representatives at one level from one party and representatives at another level from another party so both would be competing to get get re-elected and ensure that their fellow party members at the other level get similarly elected). In addition I’ve always felt that the death of the federation was the biggest mistake in a region where we are so obviously kindred.
With power so concentrated as it is it leaves politicians with too much to do (attempting to run a place that is little bigger than a borough in some major cities as a country). They then get overwhelmed which is compounded by the laziness of some of the MPs (our parliament is one of which meets the fewest times in the Commonwealth and probably in the world) so that they call for weird proposals like Samuda’s idea of having MPs be elected to run the government but some other official be elected to take care of the constituency – obviously what needs to be done in that case is not implement some chimera system but to do what other countries do which is to pass some of the powers and responsibilities on to other levels such as the community council level, parish council level, municipal level, perhaps the county level and at a federal level.
let me make it clear that at no point in either of my two comments did I express a preference for a directly elected Presidential model a la Latin America. Please go back and read my comments carefully to satisfy yourself on this point. What I did was to express the view that it would be easier for a Third Force type candidate to succeed in this system than it would be for a third political Party to break the PNP-JLP duopoly of power in Jamaica. The issue of what is the most suitable model for Jamaica could not be decided on this criterion alone, even if it were to be admitted as a criterion at all. You mistook my assessment of likelihood of success of a Third Force capturing exexcutive power, with a statement of preference, which is not the same.
In my last comment I outlined some of the elements which in my view should form part of a programme of governance reform in Jamaica; and a directly elected executive Presidency was not among them. Frankly I do not have a definitive view on that issue, partly because of the problems pointed out in your latest comment. I do believe, however, that we need to move with despatch to Republican status, because of the negative symbolic and psychological implications of maintaining the British monarch as Head of the Jamaican state. But I have an open mind on whether the Jamaican Presidency should be executive or ceremonial, and directly or indirectly elected. Neither model, in and of itself, addresses the necessity for wider, deeper and more continuous citizen participation in governance; which is one of the main issues raised by declining voter participation in the electoral process.
“Let me make it clear that at no point in either of my two comments did I express a preference for a directly elected Presidential model a la Latin America. Please go back and read my comments carefully to satisfy yourself on this point. What I did was to express the view that it would be easier for a Third Force type candidate to succeed in this system than it would be for a third political Party to break the PNP-JLP duopoly of power in Jamaica. The issue of what is the most suitable model for Jamaica could not be decided on this criterion alone, even if it were to be admitted as a criterion at all. You mistook my assessment of likelihood of success of a Third Force capturing exexcutive power, with a statement of preference, which is not the same.”
Okay. Sorry for the mix up.
“In my last comment I outlined some of the elements which in my view should form part of a programme of governance reform in Jamaica; and a directly elected executive Presidency was not among them.”
Again, sorry for the mix up. I had thought that part-and-parcel of those proposals had been the American/Latin American style presidential system we had been discussing earlier. Mea culpa.
“Neither model, in and of itself, addresses the necessity for wider, deeper and more continuous citizen participation in governance; which is one of the main issues raised by declining voter participation in the electoral process.”
Very, very true. It will probably take the better part of half-a-generation to reverse the process and it would probably need for a third party to develop from a non-political, social networking force/grouping as you outlined originally.
Voter turnout in bourgeois democratic elections is always problematic. It is a study for political analyst. Western style elections are represented by low voter turnout most of the time. The machine votes are given; no efforts are needed to bring them to the polling stations. The undecided will be swayed by the arguments and which party is able to convince them. The uninterested, those who have nothing to gain or lose, those who charge ” plague on both your house,” will stay home and the few who would like to welcome a revolutionary situation, will continue to agitate against the ” system.” According to some, ” we will live out the next five years,” we are surviving with the little we have. The question: ” Where are the revolutionaries?” What type? Or ” Do we really need them? And, what is the purpose?
Jamaica, a Republic? It is long overdue. What benefits have we as a nation received for being a member of the commonwealth? The parasitic British Monarchy as our head of state is purely ceremonial and is completely useless, except for gossips.
We need to begin local discussions, with the people, concerning the future of Jamaica. We need deep thinking about the economic geography of Jamaica ““ economic zones, the environment as per the understanding of John Maxwell, the condition of the Caribbean Sea, which surrounds us; every basic human concern should be placed on the table.
Imagine this Norman, for all these years, Rastafarians have been demonized. Jamaica has been labeled the ” Ganja capital of the world,” and yet, we have no CEOs of a medicinal marijuana corporation, a billion dollar legal business. The new government needs to enter into this ideological dialogue. Consider the revenues.
You have given a good overview. Yet apathy prevails amongst the populace.
The core issues have not changed for decades:-
- Development of agriculture and light manufacturing with niche market products also being produced.
- Reduction of crime and violence
- Improvement of educational standards on average for the majority of pupils and students, while making education accessible and affordable.
- Affordable medical care
- Utilising comparative costs and relative Caribbean natural resource advantages in a process of co-operative CARICOM development. Is it farfetched to assume that that Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica can still co-operate in the energy and bauxite sectors for mutual advantage?
Etc. etc. etc.
Yet, put the big issues to the side and ask a few small questions:-
A. Within a 5 or 4 year term in office, is it that hard for a government to set some specific economic and political targets and actually accomplish one or two of the main ones before the end of a term?
B. Is it that difficult to arrive at cross-party agreement on some medium to long-term objectives and pursue those over time, so that the agreed goals, regardless of which party wins at the polls inures to the nation”™s benefit?
C. Is the problem a lack of focused political will, or is it a lack of money in the public coffers to accomplish goals even when targets are set?
What strikes me is the general apathy, the significant disengagement of many in the country from the political process and a view held by many that ” dem ( i.e. the politicians) inna politics fi di money”.
The observations made have been around as desired goals since 1962 – and now 50 years on?
Ideas are fine and necessary to chart a path, but implementation achieves and accomplishes goals. But, actually what are Jamaica”™s goals at present at the national level?
Jon-sorry for the hiatus as I was on something else.
The reasons you gave for wanting a Federation of the West Indies–to mitigate the untrammelled power of island politicians and diffuse political power””are almost identical to those given by Sir Arthur Lewis over 40 years ago. Go to page 15 of
However, while I am a strong believer in regionalism, I do not believe that a political federation of CARICOM is a feasible proposition at this time, for a variety of economic and political reasons that would take too long to go into here. The problem we have with making regionalism work is that we have been using imported concepts and models of regionalism instead of devising one of our own. The West Indies Federation was inspired by the examples of Canada and Australia and the Caricom Single Market and Economy was inspired by the EU.
In my opinion we need a concept and model of regionalism that is workable in our circumstances and addresses some of our most pressing needs. Some of us have proposed an approach of selective pooling of sovereignty for the provision of selected regional public goods where there are tangible benefits to be derived by all or most of the member countries and the cost is modest””areas like food security, renewable energy, climate change, and intra-regional transport. The approach is elaborated in a paper prepared for the Chairman of CARICOM last year but it has not been given sufficient consideration.
Meanwhile we continue to pursue what I now believe to be an unrealisable and inappropriate dream””the CSME””and beat up on our leaders and ourselves for not achieving it. We should not be pressing them to re-start it, but to consider and adopt a more appropriate model of regionalism.
You are missing some critical points….people on the ground are just fed up with the arrogance, the verbal abuse, lies, disrespect meted out by too many JLP leaders on the ground and away from the public eye…..national polls would not necessarily pick this up…Also, there is/was a quiet anger at many bad governance practices beginning with the “appointment” of the Solicitor-General, and various other spurious appointments and firings, serious dissing of the public service generally, coarse behaviour and disrespect on the political platforms, a negative media campaign that backfired across sectors, a conservative and exclusive approach to governance generally…I could go on…..
the JLP did not realize how mortally wounded the body politic was by the mis-handling, lies and overt corruption (thankfully exposed by the Contractor General and Auditor General) over 4 years, and thought that the shine of “young Prince Andrew” was enough to overcome this. Close observation of their media campaign showed an over-reliance on him, as leader…a virtual unknown factor at first, with the sheen and vigour of youth, which was soon sullied by his own mis-steps in the media and on political platforms..very little mention of ‘a JLP team”…..
52.6% of registered voters did vote, and so the PNP even with 42 of 63 seats, is a minority government in terms of popular vote…which means that there is much, much work to be done, especially addressing the severe economic crisis the country faces….Omar made the point on TV, that until they do know the extent of real debt, the accurate situation of social services, uncompleted but paid for projects etc……making firm plans about immediate steps to be taken may have been unwise…and premature??
The debate continues…..
“I would agree to all except the last part about giving the parliament greater independence from the Executive.” (Your comment at http://www.normangirvan.info/girvan-jamaicas-new-pnp-government/#comment-20749(.
The late Carl Stone had some very interesting proposals on reforming the system, that he self-published a year or two (I think) before his demise. I have lost the pamphlet, but what I remember liking the most was where he insisted that the function of Parliamentary representation of constituencies should be separated from Ministerial responsibility. His idea was that Constituency representation should be a full-time job. MSs would be provided with an office by the state, should live in their constituencies, and should be required to attend their office to meet with constituents something like three days a week at least. Ministers would be appointed from non-MPs, on merit, and would be subject to Parliamentary approval and accountable to Parliament. What do you think of this?
In response to the comment on:-
” I would agree to all except the last part about giving the parliament greater independence from the Executive.”
All political systems have the same core problem ( challenge). The other branches of government have power, while residual and final centralised power resides in the Executive. Can’t avoid this construct, but the challenge is to have mechanisms in place where the Executive in the exercise of its power does not abuse it.
The idea of inbuilt structural tensions/structural balances between parliament/the Executive would be designed to have both checks and a greater degree of independence from the Executive. Troublesome independent MPs remain back-benchers ( albeit having good ideas and talent). Lackey MP gets into Cabinet. We do not have the American system. In theory the Congressman( woman) has autonomy and is not manhandled by the Executive. Problem in the US, however, is that the lobbyists and the political funders control Congressional power ( political power in the US is bought and paid for).
Our MPs are far too much political supplicants to the Executive. The Jamaican MP does not have the cash, unless he has a connection to the Executive or underground sources of funding. And this has to change if want better representation and more effective government.
An email correspondent has drawn attention to a poll taken last year which found that 60 percent of Jamaicans believe that the country would have been better of had it remained under Brirtish rule. “Most Jamaicans believe island would have been better off under British rule.” (“Give Us The Queen!” (The Gleaner, Tuesday | June 28, 2011) http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110628/lead/lead1.html.
He finds the statistic ‘stunning’ and expresses surprise that none of the contributors to this debate has mentioned it.
In my view this finding is merely one of several such indicators of the dissatisfaction whch many or most Jamaicans feel about the present state of affairs in the country, and of their lack of confidence that this can be fixed through the political system, as it is now.
I recollect surveys that find that most Jamaicans would emigrate, if given the opportunity (over 80% of tertiary graduates now live abroad); and another that found that Jamaicans have a low opinion of their ‘democratic system’ (this last one was a comparative survey over Latin America.)
Nostalgia for British rule is nostalgia for an “imagined past”, as most Jamaicans now living have not actually experienced colonial rule. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that in some respects there has been deterioration in the quality of life of most Jamaicans since 1962, notably in personal security, and most notably of all, in the hope and expectation of betterment.
As one who “came of age” in the same year as Jamaica’s independence, I can say that the big dreams that my generation had that Independence would serve as an opporunity to transform the society, economy and cultural life in the interests of the majority, have, for the most part, not been fulfilled.
Looking back a half a century, I am coming to the conclusion that the ‘Independence’ that was bequeathed, and the ‘democracy’ that was acquired, in 1962; were nothing but a monumental face card. Very little of substance actually changed.
We come back to the necessity for political and governance reform. But, as another commentator pointed out, where is the logic of appealing to governments, and the political class that controls them, to in effect give up much of their own power? Therein lies the dilemma.
It can only happen when (a) the pressure for reform “from below” becomes so powerful that it can no longer be resisted, or makes it opportune for the political class to embrace it (which also has its dangers), and/or (b) the system as it currently stands becomes dysfunctional — meaning that it becomes virtually impossible to effectively govern. These two conditions are not mutually exclusive, of course.
Entirely agree with your last comments Norman. I would extend it beyond Jamaica and say that this view permeates the entire Caribbean and dare I say it, the developing world. Migration rates of graduates sums it up for me, when 80% of your brightest and best, the people who the State has invested in, then take their skills, expertise and nation-building capacities to the ‘Developed’ world. We then become investors in HRD for these richer countries. Just go to your average London hospital and you will at some point encounter a Sudanese, Nigerian or Ghanian doctor, a Jamaican, Zimbabwean or Filipino nurse, etc etc. The net loss for the developing world is enormous. The bigger loss though is the harm is does to future institutional development prospects – how can you develop when the conveyor belt to the North is full to capacity with no slow-down in sight?
“Jon-sorry for the hiatus as I was on something else.”
Wow, didn’t even know the discussion had continued. I was reading the comments in another post and got linked to the continuation of our discussion.
No apologies needed for the hiatus. It was around New Year’s Eve/Day so it’s quite understandable and expected.
“The reasons you gave for wanting a Federation of the West Indies….. almost identical to those given by Sir Arthur Lewis over 40 years ago. Go to page 15 of
Yes, I agree. And Lewis’ words have come to pass in quite a few jurisdictions to varying degrees (off the top of my head I can think of Guyana, Grenada and Jamaica where good governance has at times come under serious pressure due to the isolated nature of the societies).
“However, while I am a strong believer in regionalism, I do not believe that a political federation of CARICOM is a feasible proposition at this time,”
I agree as well. I know it would not happen overnight, but it should be the ultimate goal (bearing in mind the mistakes made the last time). Currently East Africa is on its way towards a federation and their goal had been to establish a federation 15 years after re-establishing the East African Community (in 2000) and many years after reviving integration efforts (begun in the 1990s) following the acrimonious collapse of the previous effort in 1977. In between there was even a war between Tanzania and Uganda. We can’t follow the East African model of course, but their efforts should provide inspiration for us.
“for a variety of economic and political reasons that would take too long to go into here.”
I totally understand. I think the primary reason though is not economic or political but sociological. I remember reading about a poll that UWI conducted among Jamaicans in the 2000s and it found that about a third of Jamaicans supported a renewed federation. In fact I wrote about it here: http://www.normangirvan.info/re-energising-caricom-integration-prime-minister-tillman-thomas/. Doing some digging here is the Buddan article which gives the percentages: 37% in favour and 34% opposed – http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20050206/focus/focus3.html. In Boxill’s “Ideology and Caribbean Integration” it was basically outlined that integration sentiment does exist but it is lukewarm and the integration movement is fragile as a result. This is borne out of pure ignorance I believe as quite often stereotypes reign (and are fed by some mainstream media outlets even today) and these stereotypes then colour people’s perceptions of other West Indians. Where it needs to be fought is in the public space – bringing awareness to get rid of ignorance. So in prep schools and high schools there should probably be exchange programmes, educational posters, classes, etc which will show children that we have much in common and are basically one people (even if of different ethnicities). Civics has been taught in schools to make better citizens and ensure that citizens feel a connection with their nation and each other and that they understand their rights and responsibilities and how their nation works. Applying the same on a wider regional scale should have a similar effect. For adults those school initiatives would be of no use, but public awareness campaigns outlining just how similar our various West Indian states are and our shared culture, heritage and history (whilst praising our diversity and the different origins of the various people in the region) could help.
“The problem we have with making regionalism work is that we have been using imported concepts and models of regionalism instead of devising one of our own. The West Indies Federation was inspired by the examples of Canada and Australia and the Caricom Single Market and Economy was inspired by the EU.
In my opinion we need a concept and model of regionalism that is workable in our circumstances and addresses some of our most pressing needs.”
I agree. I don’t see a problem with taking good ideas from other models (for instance the EU’s qualified majority voting is a technique which for some fiery issues would provide assurances to small polities that they won’t be overwhelmed by the more populous members and it would provide assurances to the more populous members that they won’t be out-voted by smaller members in a one-member-one-vote scenario if the smaller members outnumber the more populous states and it would also assure them that their voice will be heard).
“Some of us have proposed an approach of selective pooling of sovereignty for the provision of selected regional public goods where there are tangible benefits to be derived by all or most of the member countries and the cost is modest””areas like food security, renewable energy, climate change, and intra-regional transport. The approach is elaborated in a paper prepared for the Chairman of CARICOM last year but it has not been given sufficient consideration.
Hmm….pity that it wasn’t given much consideration. Might I suggest that a slightly different approach is tried? The thing about getting people psyched about something is that you need to get their attention. And for politicians I would “guesstimate” that their attention is focused 95% of the time on re-election and 5% of the time on everything else. That paper by PM Thomas would probably have to compete with God know’s how many other things for the 5% of time when his colleagues can pay attention to anything else. The way to get their full attention would be outlining exactly how it can benefit them for re-election (yes, I know it is like spoon feeding but let’s just say I know of a recent experience in a recent election in a Caricom state where ideas that would never be given a first glance, much less a second one in normal times were picked up during the election campaigning….). So while that document is great as a general plan, it probably won’t do any good on a specific level unless a localized plan can be shown to the people who have the power to implement that local plan as part of the larger general plan. For example there is mention of regional agricultural and food programme, but to get the attention of the states which are best positioned to be food producers (Guyana, Suriname and Belize) there should be localized plans on how they can produce more food for the region and thus show how they can benefit. Jagdeo’s Initiative is a start, but it needs to be followed through on and Jagdeo himself should probably be offered a role in overseeing it’s implementation (maybe in a manner similar to how Jimmy Carter is involved in democracy promotion but this time with semi-official sanction and connection to the Secretariat).
“Meanwhile we continue to pursue what I now believe to be an unrealisable and inappropriate dream””the CSME””and beat up on our leaders and ourselves for not achieving it. We should not be pressing them to re-start it, but to consider and adopt a more appropriate model of regionalism.”
I don’t think it is unrealisable or inappropriate. Just that it needs to be fleshed out. The CSME is the backbone on which other selected approaches on food security, renewable energy, climate change, and intra-regional transport should be built. For instance the CSME allows free movement of (for now selected categories) of labour and also the right of establishment. For food security, private enterprise absolutely needs to be involved. Government should facilitate these enterprises in establishing themselves and provide a fair environment for competition and the trade of goods. When necessary the Government should even step in to save critical sectors of the economy. But food security will never occur if we expect it to be a 100% government initiative. A regional plan with goals and targets should be drawn up (e.g. increase regional food production by 30% within 7 years and/or reduce the need for food imports to year 2000 levels by 2018) and then territorial plans and goals and targets should be drawn up to meet the regional plan (or to even exceed the goals/targets of the regional plan). What the governments can do to help these plans along should then be specified. For instance providing 0% interest loans (and seeds) to farmers and businesses who produce the crops/meats outlined in the plans; allowing farmers with a proven track record of producing to be given State lands (either at discounted rates or under a lease agreement, perhaps with the payment only due after the farmer has produced something from the land) to expand their activities. The State lands given would have to be unprotected and unforested land of course as there is no point in having food security while contributing to climate change. In addition these lands would be anywhere within the Community. So a farmer in say St. Lucia who has done well there could be allowed (and encouraged) to lease a new plot in Belize to produce if he wanted. Perhaps that aspect of it could be done through a new Jagdeo Initiative Centre or something like that.
” I would agree to all except the last part about giving the parliament greater independence from the Executive.” (Your comment at http://www.normangirvan.info/girvan-jamaicas-new-pnp-government/#comment-20749(.
The late Carl Stone had some very interesting proposals on reforming the system, that he self-published………What do you think of this?”
Hmm….the function of parliamentary representation of constituencies and ministerial responsibility seems to work just fine in a number of other countries including the Bahamas, Mauritius (another island nation with a history of slavery, indentureship and colonialism and a former sugar-dependent country which from what I recall successfully diversified its agricultural base) and Barbados. I for one refuse to believe that there is something so different about Jamaica or Jamaicans that what works for other people with similar histories and cultures is unworkable for us. To my mind the root problem can be found in the fact that we have lazy parliamentarians. Besides having MPs who sometimes are frequently absent, even those who attend are lazy in that other parliaments sit one-and-a-half to two times as often as ours does: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20100221/focus/focus4.html and
Then to top it all off Parliament only meets a few days a week. I found it incredible that in a job where he only has to show up at work 3 days a week and where there were approximately 50 sittings a year (compared to 86 in Kenya, 115 in Canada and 140+ in Britain) that Mr. Samuda would have the gall to suggest that he and other ministers were overworked by being both ministers and MPs. If I have to work 5 days a week and about 250-260 days a year (and a lot of people work 6 or even 7 days a week and many more days out of the year) I see no reason why any parliamentarian must be overworked by appearing in parliament for a maximum of 150 days a year. Some of the laziest MPs have never been ministers. I can tell you for a fact that a certain MP of a certain rural constituency who has never been a minister has been a very disengaged MP and let roads fall into disrepair etc except until about a week before the election. He duly lost his seat. In contrast I have friends and relatives who speak very highly of another MP in the constituency they live in who has usually held a Shadow minister position, a ministerial position and speakership of the House (which is not an easy position) and he still managed to get the support of about 60% of his constituents. He got this precisely because he looked out for the constituency’s interest at the national level (and it didn’t matter if his party was in power or opposition) by ensuring that national bodies looked after infrastructure in the constituency. If he can do it (and he’s over 60 years old), I see no reason why that other MP in the rural constituency could not do it (and that MP is 14 years younger than the proactive MP!) nor can I see any reason why any other MPs cannot do it. If they want an easy life they should stay out of politics.
If it is that some of them are overworked however it might well be because they have taken on responsibilities as MPs that they never should have in their pursuit to build garrison constituencies (so providing work directly and paying for school clothes etc). But separating the MP role and the minister role would only free these persons to continue building a culture of dependence (which I would imagine is actually hard work) instead of building a nation.
There a couple of things I do agree with from Stone’s proposal:
1. MPs should live in the constituency they represent. This is logical and too often we’ve had Kingstoners running for office just going into the countryside, serving up some curried goat and rice & peas and then getting into office. Not saying folks who live in the constituency won’t use the same tactic, but the current situation leaves me feeling uneasy, almost as if we are on our way to having a de facto colonial situation within the country itself. In any case, MPs who live in their constituencies would find it easier to attend to their constituents complaints and would (or should) have a clearer picture of the problems facing the constituency.
2. Ministers should be appointed on merit. I think a major reason why some MPs find the work overwhelming is because they are placed in roles that they are not suited for in addition to the fact that they attempt to micro-manage when they really ought to be just formulating policy and having the permanent secretaries actually implement it. With regards to ministers not being suited for the job, one only has to look at the previous government. We had a Minister of Health position open and we had TWO qualified medical doctors (one was even a surgeon!) who had been elected to parliament and who were members of the governing party (Dr. Ken Baugh and Dr. Horace Chang). Now who was made Minister of Health? Why Rudyard Spencer of course! A trade unionist. With zero experience in medicine. How did that occur? Now it would be really sad if we had to legislate what common sense said should have occurred, but in that instance it had little to do with who was elected as to do with what Golding and later Holness decided to do. At least the current government has gone a step in the right direction and given Dr. Ferguson the Health portfolio (although he is a Dentist by profession…and there are other medical doctors in parliament including Dayton Campbell, Morais Guy, Lynvale Bloomfield and Wykeham McNeill…..but at least Dr. Ferguson knows something about the medical sciences). In instances where no elected representative actually has experience in a given portfolio the logic thing to do would be to give the person who has the nearest type of experience (so if no doctors, dentists or vets in parliament then give the Health portfolio to someone who did biological sciences past high school) and then ensure that the someone with experience in that field is appointed in the Senate and then appointed as a Minister without Portfolio or a State Minister and then task them with assisting in that Ministry. But this really shouldn’t be something that needs to be written in the Constitution as it should be a common sense approach. When we absolutely need to write common sense procedures into our Constitution we are in serious trouble as a state. Eventually we may have to write “don’t play with fire” in the Constitution as well….
“An email correspondent has drawn attention to a poll taken last year which found that 60 percent of Jamaicans believe that the country would have been better of had it remained under Brirtish rule. ” Most Jamaicans believe island would have been better off under British rule.” (“Give Us The Queen!” (The Gleaner, Tuesday | June 28, 2011) http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110628/lead/lead1.html.
He finds the statistic “™stunning”™ and expresses surprise that none of the contributors to this debate has mentioned it.”
Why does he find it stunning? I’m not stunned. It’s actually pretty old news as there was a Stone poll done back in 2002 which showed similar results: 53 percent of Jamaicans think Jamaica would have been better off as a British colony and 15 percent disagreed. It’s interesting that the amount who think it would have been better to remain like Cayman had increased from 2002 to 2011 (from 53 to 60 percent) and I suspect it is directly related to the deterioration in the quality of life and the fact that Cayman, BVI and Bermuda provide examples of what life might well have been like had the Union Jack not been lowered.
Getting back to the point where a lot of our problems result from the people (and the mindset of those people) in the system (for instance appointing a trade unionist as health minister while appointing the two doctors in government to the foreign affairs and housing & water portfolios) I’ve just recalled one very good example of this which shows how it hinders national development and our integration effort: the fight over the CCJ.
In the 1980s when Seaga was in power he did not oppose the CCJ and even contributed towards its formation by proposing the model adopted for the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission to ensure independence of the CCJ from political interference. Seaga then lost the 1989 election and went into opposition mode and opposed the CCJ, even inferring that it would be open to political interference and that the method of appointing judges (the method he came up with and which was adopted) was not sufficient to prevent political interference. He then started claiming that “conditions had changed” in the economic, social and justice spheres in the decade since he was prime minister and had given “cautious and conditional” support to the formation of a regional court of appeal (nothing could be further from the truth however except that the he was no longer prime minister as the justice system in the 1980s didn’t suddenly collapse in the 1990s and our economic situation has been basically the same since the 1950s). Seaga also made much about the fact that the Privy Council was basically the only trustworthy court and that we couldn’t trust our own local and regional judiciaries – he managed to successful win over some to this view of local inferiority and these people still espouse this basic concept today. Seaga then gets pushed out of the leadership position in the JLP and the new leader (Golding) continues on the same track of denigrating the local and regional judiciary and being wedded to the JCPC. That is until 2009 when the Senior Law Lord in the JCPC (in an interview with the Financial Times) lamented at the “disproportionate” amount of time spent working on cases from the Caribbean and other jursidictions in the the JCPC (he even mentioned murder cases from Jamaica specifically) and said he would be looking for ways to curb the time spent on these cases and would look into the possibility of bringing in Court of Appeal judges (from a lower rung of the justice system) to deal with the case. He also opined that (in his view) in an ideal world the other Commonwealth countries would stop using the Privy Council. Following that virtual slap in the face, we saw Bruce Golding go from one extreme to the other. Instead of now supporting the JCPC he started calling for a local (Jamaican) final court of appeal. No explanation given as to why the local judiciary (which had been unreliable apparently from 1989-2009) was suddenly now reliable enough to establish our own local final appellate court. The thing about it though was that this was a naked attempt at playing for nationalism after the JCPC itself had indicated that we were not welcome with entirely open arms. No explanation was also forthcoming as to why suddenly they moved from a situation of complaining about the cost of the CCJ (which has two jurisdictions and is still needed as the court for the Revised Treaty) and contrasting it to the “freeness” of the JCPC to accepting the CCJ in its original jurisdiction but being willing to spend extra money on a separate final appellate court (which would mean spending even more money that simply accepting the CCJ in both its original and appellate jurisdictions). Now that the JLP got a second slap in the face (from the electorate), we hear (in the Observer) Mr. Samuda saying that he has no problem with the CCJ and that the JLP apparently has no problem with Portia’s plan to adopt the CCJ. So it seems that in essence 23 years were wasted on needless opposition to the CCJ because of the personalities involved (and I wouldn’t be surprised if the JLP changes its position yet again and throws up another roadblock to the CCJ). Definitely the time from 2005-2012 (7 years) had been wasted as by then the CCJ was already in existence and Jamaica could have adopted it. If we can waste between 7-23 years on the issue of the CCJ I can just imagine how many other issues have been languishing for God knows how many years or decades as a result of the JLP opposing the PNP on something and the PNP opposing the JLP on something simply for the game of political circus.
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