The President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Warren McDonald, has issued a rallying cry to members of civil society to intensify their lobbying efforts to have the government fix the date of elections.
In a statement to the media, Mr. McDonald says Sunday’s announcement by the Prime Minister that elections will not be held this year has only reset the clock on the next round of speculation.
The JCC President says countless unproductive man-hours will again be expended on guessing when the governing party will decide to “fly the gate” in the knowledge that the main deciding factor will be a time most advantageous to itself.
Rather than see this cycle replicated over and over in our future, McDonald says civil society institutions should begin a joint campaign to shift from this dysfunctional way of approaching elections.
The Directors of the JCC passed four resolutions at their October meeting.
They resolved that:
Jamaica deserved a fixed election date;
That Jamaica should have joint general and local government elections;
That Jamaica should undertake campaign finance reform
And that Jamaica should have term limitations.
The JCC President says there are no doubts that the advantages of having a fixed election date vastly outweigh the purported disadvantages.
He says the Chamber is unpersuaded by the opposing argument that a fixed election date takes away the opportunity for the electorate to recall or influence the recall of the government in power at any point should that government sufficiently displease the electorate.
Mr. McDonald says the national dialogue that would be necessary to effect fixed election dates, could borrow from the experiences of those nations that have instituted fixed dates for their polls, to institute mitigating measures.
He says such measures may include, as in the case of the UK, provisions whereby parliament may be dissolved at a time other than the fixed date, based on the passage of a vote of no-confidence, or through a determination by a two-thirds majority of parliamentarians.
The JCC notes that other countries with fixed election dates include Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
He notes that countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain or Israel have a system where elections must be held within a stipulated two month window.
The JCC President says Jamaica can do much better than it’s doing now.
He says it’s time for civil society to demand much more.