Charles Swan: Time Is Ripe For Electoral Reform

November 28, 2012

[Written by Charles Swan] As the 2012 General Election approaches, the main political groups as well as Independents will be hard at work with attempts to influence voting behaviour.

This will take the form of:

  • Platforms
  • Rallies
  • Social functions and other events
  • Advertising space, time, bumper stickers etc

In the U.S. Presidential Election just recently held, millions of dollars were spent and in Bermuda elections are no different – only a matter of scale.

Many will, and should, question these amounts, and the motives that drive the spending, the end result sought. Ultimately, no one group or individual can predict the future. However, they do try and influence it.

What one group or individual says it will do – before an election – will thus have no bearing on what that group or individual will do – after it is elected. If indeed it is elected.

What is said before an election can only allow the voter to hold that group or individual accountable – after an election, if the group or individual is elected.

A group or individual’s record, on relevant issues, is usually the best basis to start with, before an election. Knowing that group, or person, is another – their upbringing, family history, how they arrived at where they are today.

In the absence of firm guidelines on behavior, as outlined by Independent candidate Kim Swan in a recent news article, anything goes. We believe that the time is ripe for electoral reform, for Bermudian voters.

In trying to own your vote – by spending a lot of money – Respect, Fairness, Integrity, Principles and to a degree Logic – all get forgotten. Thrown out the window.

In this election, the record of one group is known, and the record of some of the independents is known. In this election the record of the other group, and the remaining independents, is unknown.

In this election the democratic process has come full circle – one of the main parties have served in government and the other is a renamed version of the former government.

Our electorate are experienced and becoming more and more discerning. In a healthy,maturing democracy that is a very good thing. Not to be treated lightly.

What you believe is important too. The electorate should understand one numerical fact. This built in hurdle in our electoral system arises from this fact , which is that in 2007, 47% of the popular vote garnered by the Opposition UBP only gained them 38% of the seats in the House of Assembly.

Even with boundary changes in 2012, this built in hurdle remains. Even if the OBA garner 53% of the popular vote – as the PLP did in 2007, that will not necessarily translate into a majority of seats in the House. It could , but only if the OBA win seats that the PLP currently hold.

In this election, who you believe is most deserving of your vote, and who you believe will continue that good work after elected, may prove the over riding decision maker.

The electorate is urged to vote and to vote for the right reasons. Many are hearing that a vote for an Independent is a vote for the PLP. This is said from a base attempt to instill fear.

Whomever tells a voter this believes you should vote for them for no other reason than they are the only alternative, that you have to vote for them – not based on their record, but out of fear…. and a promise. They believe they own your vote.

I believe that one’s vote is earned not owned. I also believe that our electorate understand and respect that.

I know I do.

- Charles Swan, the incumbent, will be running as an Independent in C#31 Southampton West Central against Shawn Crockwell [OBA] and Scott Simmons [PLP].

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Comments (12)

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  1. JOE says:

    Proportional representation. Please?

    • George says:

      So Joe if one party win the popular vote (53%-OBA according to Charles Swan)and the other the majority of seats in the House, what political system would you propose will sort this mess out if its not proportional representation?

      • JOE says:

        I want PR. Sorry if I wasn’t clear… Not only is it the most ‘fair’ system I truly believe that Bermuda would benefit from implementing such a system. For instance, if the PLP get 40%, the OBA get 40%, and Independents get 20% then the only way to pass legislation would be to work together and get cross-party support (something that very rarely happens nowadays…and something that is truly needed if we are to move forward as an undivided island). Bermuda is too small for the current first-past-the-post + 36 constituencies to work effectively and for the beterment of Bermuda as a whole. One man/one vote? Not if you vote in a ‘strong-hold’… The only people who will oppose such a move are those supporters of the current ruling party as they are the ones who benefit most from the system as it currently stands.

    • 1st time voter says:

      Mr. Swan when I think of voting for a member of parliament, I am seeking a candidate with experience and integrity. Sir you have both and will get my vote. Thank you for representing honestly.

  2. Hmmmmm says:

    Funny how this all needs to be fixed now. Just because you don’t like the result doesn’t mean the system is broken. It could mean you don’t know how to win. If the PLP could win under the unjust and unfair dual seat constituency system in 1998 then I’m afraid the OBA will have to just plug away until they can win in this one. Its called being in opposition; you only get to make changes when you win. Ta very much England.

  3. Filta says:

    Pack it in Charlie.

  4. Charlie Swan says:

    At all. Most, if not all, of the Independent candidates support electoral reform. I do, as does my former colleague Kim Swan. The democratic principle of One Man One Vote, each Vote of Equal Value does not manifest itself under the current First Past the Post system.
    In a small country such as ours, a ‘winner take all’ two party system has proven to be a disservice to Bermudians. The main parties like it, but it doesn’t benefit, or truly respect, the voters rights in a democracy.
    Periodic boundary reviews and adjustments address the issue to a degree. Proportional Representation can, and does, come closest to a full solution.
    Respectfully, Charlie Swan 5054754 24/7/365

    • Amazed says:

      It is clear you want this now because you believe that it will benefit you! Thats is the major problem with politics in Bermuda everyone wants something while pretending otherwise. Where has this push for reform been all this time? Where were you when we had dual seats?

      • JOE says:

        It will benefit Bermuda. Isn’t that what is important?

        And somebody always wins and loses…wouldn’t you agree?

  5. Charlie Swan says:

    Hi Filta,
    I respect your sentiment, and invite you to give me a call. You should know that I am encouraged and supported enough to stay the course.
    Charlie Swan