Opinion: Starling On Fixed-Term Elections

June 16, 2014

[Opinion column written by Jonathan Starling]

Among the political reforms proposed by the OBA during the 2012 general election – and political reforms that I supported and included in my own election platform – was the call for fixed-term elections. Specifically, the OBA called for fixed-term elections on a five-year cycle.

Despite almost a year and a half in power, to date the Government has failed to move forward on this election promise, prompting concerns amongst some quarters that this is yet another election promise made to win power, and subsequently cast aside.

Last summer some mention was made of a committee, headed by Minister Fahy, that was investigating and developing this reform, but no follow-up information has been released, and no expected introduction date or outline of these proposed political reforms has been forthcoming.

In the spirit of encouraging the Government to make good on these political reforms, I propose the following draft Act which I hope will both trigger popular debate and, ultimately, be tabled in Parliament.

In an easier to read format, my draft bill for fixed-term elections calls for:

  • Fixed-term elections every four years [which I consider a more natural parliamentary time-scale rather than the five] starting in 2016
  • Elections to be held on the June National Heroes Holiday [the third Monday in June – this would encourage higher turn-outs and reduce the cost of proposed absentee ballots, with most overseas students having returned for the summer by then]
  • As such the next ordinary general election would be June 20, 2016
  • Extraordinary elections, outside of the fixed-term dates, would be possible only in the event of a successful Motion of No Confidence
  • The date of the poll may be postponed by up to four weeks [28 days] by a parliamentary vote requiring 66 percent of the House of Assembly
  • Parliament cannot be otherwise dissolved

I am releasing this draft Act in the interest of soliciting public consultation on it, and to invite our parliamentarians to table and pass such legislation.

As such, I welcome feedback on it, and in particular I would like to know:

  1. Do you think elections should be every four or five years? And why?
  2. Do you think holding it on the third Monday in June is the best time for an election? If not, why? And when do you think it should be held, and why?
  3. Does the draft Act adequately allow for extraordinary elections and related scenarios?
  4. Do you agree with the mechanism for postponing scheduled elections? Or do you think it should be changed, for example:
    • To restrict postponements only in clear cases of a national emergency [natural disaster, civil unrest, etc]?
    • Should it be a simple majority of the House of Assembly, or keep it at a 66 percent requirement?
  5. Anything else? Anything missing?

The full Fixed Term Elections Act 2014 – Draft Bill can be read below [PDF here]:

- Jonathan Starling

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Comments (12)

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Articles that link to this one:

  1. 2014 Media Articles | Vote Jonathan Starling | June 16, 2014
  1. Chris Famous says:

    Aeriously dude you want an election on during a holiday?

    Go back to the drawing boas with that one mate

    Total bollocks

    • Terry says:

      We don’t always agree Mr. Famous but with respect your spot on.

    • Tylar says:

      All the youth that are back from school are too busy getting turnt up the night before to go out and vote smh.

  2. Starting Point says:

    One of the better more constructive posts of late, provides and opinion and seeks some feed back. Thanks Mr. Starling.

    I support fixed term for sure and also wish this seemingly simple piece of legislation had been done already.

    I would suggest five years on the cycle as change occurs very slowly in this sector and 5 allows for a decent amount of time for a sitting government to make changes and see some outcomes occur. (not a huge sticking point for me however as even the US is on four years).

    I feel the June window is a good one as we should ensure students are home to vote and this allows a potentially new government some considerable time to make changes to the budget submission prior to April the following year. Often a party gets in and has no time to make budget changes and thus we wait an entire year for improvements or budget changes due to the policies that we voted for etc.

    I only see the need for postponement in cases of natural disasters etc. give too much lee way and our ‘politicians’ will abuse this power lol

    I personally am not a fan of right of recall etc as currently it seems the trend is to take petty minor issues and blow them up into massive things. If we start debating ethics then the entire government would change every other month. If someone does something unethical then it is his/her parties job do do something, if someone does something illegal then the system seems to already have a mechanism to deal with this.

    This seems such an easy piece of legislation to get done imo, I would have liked to see this and gambling legislation followed by medical MJ and efforts to reduce the stop list already done. Like I said, it seems to take for ever, Pati is how many years in the making through multiple parties?

  3. Huh says:

    Once again Mr. Starling wants to discuss rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic is sinking

  4. Navin Johnson says:

    Election on a holiday? Great way to encourage no turnout.

  5. Ignorance is not Bliss says:

    jS. Why is 4 years more natural political time scale than 5? Party winning election has to have sufficient time to say reverse some actions of prior Government And also to implement , and see to fruition, its own policies. If fixed terms were in place then perhaps 8 years would be more suitable time scale.
    Holding a general election on or around a Public Holiday is a non starter IMHO. Voters are not going to forego a day with the family at the beach, on the water or off Island for a long weekend in order to vote……. Well a handful might but vast majority would not – election officials would not be happy to lose their public holiday either.

  6. frank says:

    I am for fixed turm elections but not on a holiday

  7. J lo says:

    24 people voted for him in the general election – why, oh why, does anyone think that we are interested in his opinion?

  8. CommonSensenBda says:

    A shame Mr. Starling wasn’t as “Ghung Ho”about ending the PLP’s reign while they broke the economy.