Friday, July 06, 2007

Wanted: Pristine Politics

Jamaican politics, and election in particular, have witnessed a significant amount of problems. Corruption is said to be rife and the democratic process questionable. The Jamaica Gleaner, reflecting on the history, has put a call out to the parties and candidates to follow certain standards for the 2007 election, expected to be called on Sunday; those standards include:

  • We are, of course, reasonably assured that the outcome of the voting will, by and large, reflect the people's choice. We have a democracy that functions relatively decently. But a process that is relatively decent is not good enough for us. We want it to be pristine. After all, elections are not blood sport. Rather, they are processes by which people exercise their franchise to choose a group of people in whom they can repose their trust to manage the affairs of the country for a particular period.
  • Political leaders have a responsibility not only to make statements but to act in accord with these declared values. Put another way, we expect any candidate from any party who breaches the codes presumed by democratic competitiveness to be exposed, severely censured and even ditched by their leaders.
  • Second, we expect the remainder of the campaign to be substantially about ideas and specific programmes, rather than vapid and trite declarations or feel-good fun sessions.
  • That those who offer themselves as candidates begin to speak with clarity and outline specifics, rather than offering platitudes and promises that are undeliverable. In other words, we hope for a process that is honest and truthful, with declarations of specific goals, with timetables for achievements and actions to be taken in the event of failure.

Reading these ideals makes me wonder why such standards are not demanded more broadly, can we say that, in the UK, the USA or across the EU, Australasia, or any democracy for that matter, such standards are met? It is hard to say yes isn't it? Is the fact that we cannot say yes, these are central to our understanding of an election campaign, the reason that many disengage from campaigns, show a disinterest in electoral politics, or mistrust those who claim to represent us. There's a thought for the weekend!

No comments: