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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

Given the present state of the Dominican economy, the high levels of unemployment especially among the youth, and the debilitating rate of migration, one would think that the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) to find it difficult to convince voters that it deserves another term in office.

But when you consider the possible dept and weight of the DLP campaign purse, the predictability of the next general election becomes even darker as the 2010 elections draws nearer.

To quote Orson Scott Card:

“If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd every time, no matter home much slaughtering he did on the side.”

Money can have such a significant influence on the outcome of any election, I sometimes wonder why the Electoral Commission and the opposition in particular, have not address this growing issue.

Nevertheless, the issue of campaign financing is as important as voters identification and cleaning of the voters list before the next general election is held. But in our permissive society most people don’t see anything wrong with accepting political contributions, even though these funds are donated by drug dealers and criminals.

Then again, who I’m fooling – politics on a whole is unethical.

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In the recent months, opposition parties including a few members of the civil society raise the issue of electoral reform – stressing the need for a better system of conducting the general elections in 2010 and beyond. In this regard, suggestions were made to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on how electoral reform can greatly avoid bloodshed and contention during and after the next general election.

But these persons who have been crying for equal access to state-owned media, a clean voters list and voter identification care have apparently forgotten the subtle issue of the funding of political campaigns.

The view that money tends to corrupt the political process was recently described by Wellington Ramos of Belize who on October 17, 2008 wrote an article on Caribbean Net News dot Com saying that:

“Two of the most dangerous thing that can happen to our democracy is to allow people with money to pay our citizen to vote for them to assume office and for people with money to use their funds to run for office even though they are not capable and competent to carry out the duties of the office they seek”.

Ramos further argues that in circumstances like these, where campaigns organized by poor people are funded by the rich, the officials that are elected will merely become string-puppets of the rich.

There is no doubt that money and politics are inseparable twin brothers. Money basically determines who runs, who wins and ultimately how they govern. And I’m sure that anyone who has witnessed political campaign here will attest to the fact that it takes a lot of money to run these campaigns. Take the last two elections for example, where the two major political parties spent millions of dollars on billboards; radio, television and newspaper advertising; organizing massive rallies; paying airline tickets for persons form the diaspora to return home to vote and the on-the-ground campaign from house to house and village to village.

In fact some political analysts speculate that the spending for the 2010 campaign will be the most expensive election campaign every held in Dominica. The recently held US Presidential election is prime example of how money is essential to win any election. President- elect Barack Obama, raised a staggering US$640.00 million, which Obama publicly disclosed to American People.

Hell would probably have to freeze over before any political party in Dominica publishes its source of funding. Do you recall Prime Minister Skerrit’s “It’s Not Your Damn Business” reaction when he was questioned about his party funding?

We need laws that will regulate the political corruption culture here in Dominica. Soon citizens will have little faith and confidence in their elected officials and they will, understandably, be unwilling to participate in the process of nation building.

In the interest of good and accountable government in Dominica – Do you think there should be laws in Dominica that regulates political campaigns? Should the Electoral Commission place a limit on expenditure for advertising during election campaigns, and demand full disclosure of political party financing? Let’s hear ’em comments.

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