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Chuckie revives voting debate

Charles Clifford

Charles Clifford

Former tourism minister and MLA for Bodden Town has asked his former party, the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) and five Cabinet members to implement single member constituencies that will provide for one person one vote(SMCs and OPOV).

In a press statement, Mr Clifford said that the system of OPOV and SMCs is a much fairer system of voting, compared to what is currently in place. He urged the Leader of the Opposition Hon Alden McLaughlin to force the five to a compromise that will see passage of the system.

“Any one of us can take the results of last year’s national referendum on this issue and twist it to suit our particular position. The people who turned out to vote on referendum day last year felt passionate about this issue and their votes ought to count. A very clear majority of those who voted in the referendum last year voted in favour of OPOV and SMCs,” read Mr Clifford’s statement.

“Having said that, I agree with the Leader of the Opposition and the Supervisor of Elections that it is no longer possible to implement this new and more equitable system of voting in time for the next general election without postponing it. Indeed, I gave that same advice to those who asked for it over a month ago.

“However, as a former member of the PPM, a member of the Government’s Negotiating Team for the 2009 Proposed Constitution and as someone who closely followed and supported the 2012 campaign for OPOV and SMCs, I know that the public is right to question the sincerity of the Leader of the Opposition when he says that he fully supports the OPOV and SMCs system of voting. The public is also right to question whether the PPM will implement this new system of voting if the party is elected in a majority in May of this year.

“I proposed amendments to the Elections Law in our party caucus from as far back as 2007 to change our system of voting to this fairer system. The issue was also on the table during the constitutional negotiations, but was negotiated out of the original draft constitution because the UDP objected to it and the PPM did not fight for it. It was then substituted for a constitutional provision, which basically preserved the status quo. So we had many opportunities to implement this during the PPM’s term in government but it never happened,” Mr Clifford outlined.

“But with a minority government in office, there is an immediate solution to this issue and the Leader of the Opposition and his PPM team can convince us of their position on this by taking some simple action.

“The solution is for the Leader of the Opposition to immediately and in writing strongly encourage the minority government to bring to the final meeting of this Legislative Assembly the very simple amendments to the Elections Law to allow for the implementation of OPOVand SMCs for the general election which follows the one that will be held in May 2013.

That election could be held in November 2016, May 2017 or November 2017.

Attempts to get a response from Mr McLaughlin proved futile up to press time.

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