Posted by: J Starling | July 27, 2009

Open Mike – “We Live in Interesting Times”

This was submitted by ‘Pied Piper’ for discussion here.

We live in interesting times.

As the saga of Premier Brown’s leadership continues there is a lot of speculation about the future. At some point an election will be called. That raises the issue of our current representative democracy.

There has been much talk about another party. That will not succeed. Bermuda needs Direct Democracy a new way of thinking. Direct Democracy I believe would provide a whole new political dimension and remove the entrenched racial political polarisation of Bermuda. A very good template of the principles of Direct Democracy is given by http://www.wegovern.ca. There is also another excellent site Ni4D It wouldn’t matter what colour skin you had the elected representative would represent the will of the people. Amazingly I have not seen a single suggestion for this in any of the posts on any of the blogs. Direct Democracy is a return to the original Greek foundations and is a must for the modern world. I believe the time of representative democracy has passed and for the sake of future generations everyone must take some responsibility in how we are governed.

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Responses

  1. I think that it’s not necessarily a traditional ‘third’ party that many people are looking for, but some kind of political movement that is independent of the standard party group-think but consists of people at loosely aligned together with the goal of reforming how government and politics works on this island. I think some of the items brought up in the Direct Democracy links you’ve posted are represented in some of the postings by members of Bermuda Jewel and others, actually.

    One thing that you mentioned that holds true is that our political leanings generally are slanted by the construct of race. It’s unfortunate and a bit petty, to say the least. This is an unusual society in terms of demographics; the US and Canada have a vast (but shrinking) majority of whites, the Caribbean island nations are majority black. Here the proportions are closer to even. Maybe that’s what fostered our politics to be so different from our immediate neighbours.

    As such, instead of political matters being what’s the best way to fund a new hospital, for example, it’s why white people will trample over blacks or why black people will get payback.

    But back to your original commentary, our version of representative democracy isn’t perfect by any stretch, it’s about getting power and all the trappings. How can it be improved, and is it realistic to do so when the current powers wouldn’t have any interest in a movement that could see their influence diminish?

  2. Pied Piper,

    Not sure if you’ve ever seen my blog http://www.21square.com but I’ve actually written for years about the need for particpatory/direct democracy and have spent a great deal of time studying it.

    If you’re truly interested in exploring direct democracy I encourage you along with anyone else interested to check out the Guidebook to Direct Democracy published by the Initative and Referendum Institute of Europe. It is by far the best and most comprehensive resource I’ve ever encountered on Direct Democracy and best of all is available free online.

  3. Here’s the link: http://www.iri-europe.org/en/publications/guidebooks/

  4. Representative democracy works if there is direct accountability to the constituents. We hired them…. we should be able to fire them.

  5. How would we the voting public be able to hold our elected MP accountable and, if need be, have him or her recalled? Would that be, say, a parish council function?

    Would it work in a fashion where they’d need say 60% of votes to carry it through?

  6. Glad to see we are finally moving the discussion away from a third party!

    I would hope that a direct democracy solution would engage more people to participate and to Vote! The potential danger I see is the process getting hijacked by the more politically active and only their agenda being served, similar to our current situation.

    In Australia it is compulsory to vote if you are over 18 and if you don’t you are subject to penalties. That is a little extreme in my view but it might just get people thinking.

    All in all I agree with Sparxx. The elected official should be held accountable to the constituents. if their performance is seen as poor they should be removed. If you can vote them in you should be able to vote them out.

  7. “In Australia it is compulsory to vote if you are over 18 and if you don’t you are subject to penalties. That is a little extreme in my view but it might just get people thinking”

    Maybe more carrot, less stick (e.g. some kind of payroll tax refund)… but Bermuda itself has a relatively high voting percentage compared to several other places, so is this really something that should be prioritised?

  8. Now I’m all for direct democracy but I just wonder would these kinds of changes even be possible if Bermuda remains a colony?

  9. There is no reason why direct democracy (or at least a form of it) could not work in our current constitutional state.

    While the UK has indicated that there will be no further amendment of the Constitution enlarging the powers given to the Bermuda Government, I would not expect there to be an objection to a reform of how MP’s are elected and the rules governing them. That sort of change would not affect the relationship between Bermuda and the UK, it would only affect the relationship between Parliament and the People.

    I think the key to moving Bermuda forward (both olitically and socially) is reform of the entire local political scene. Remove the “Party” and vote for individuals, individuals who can truely represent the people who vote for them; and if they are not acting in their constituents best interests, the constituents can fire (actually recall) them.

    Pitts Bay

  10. Point taken, thanks PB.

  11. time for some public forums and public education on their real political options and less internet based talk…good link dennis

  12. Actually Black Press you bring up something very vital and I have said it a thousand times.

    The bloggers have all the answers buut want to remain annonamous.

    Basically, self gratification and fears. Silly really but too them and a few chosen others it is all about a time slot and having others think that the island will fall apart without their input.

    A great Cop Metch too all. No cricket teams here in the mountains chasing balls just eating my food………

    Hell mabe tomorrow someone can rack up 400 not out………………………………

  13. “In Australia it is compulsory to vote if you are over 18 and if you don’t you are subject to penalties. That is a little extreme in my view but it might just get people thinking”

    It may be extreme as you say, but two things always amaze me:

    1) I often wonder if people don’t seem to appreciate the power of the franchise and the struggles some have gone to to get it
    2) I am amazed at the number of white folks in BDA who are not registered to vote yet remain eligible.

    That last comment came from a radio interview some days ago. Sadly, I didn’t get the reference.

  14. the number of white folks in BDA are not registered yet remain eligible

    Source? Reason? Are you saying that there are people living here who are eligible to vote yet do not register? Really? Seems very unlikely, unless they are unaware of that right. Perhaps there is confusion between PRC and status.

    With you on voter apathy. My parents could not vote until 1968, so I know full well the meaning of suffrage.

    Rummy, you know full well why people remain anonymous when there is a definite risk to their livelihood if outed. There have been several instances where people were punished because of their opinion. You don’t live here anymore, you’re safe. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

  15. Took me by surprise when I heard it too. As I said earlier, I didn’t catch the source (reference).

  16. Ren Man…

    You actually raise an interesting point when you mention confusion between PRC and status.

    Does anyone have chapter and verse on what these terms mean – what rights/benefits come with them? Time frames etc.

    Immigration site doesn’t help.

  17. Sorry Ren Man…had a telephone call and missed the best part of all your comments.

    Your last sentence above proves my point. “The rest of us aren’t so lucky”…………….. Ironic eh?

    Apparently your not doing anything about it and you feel violated.

    Get up man and stand up for your rights instead of trying to make me look like an asshole.

    Have a great day and hug the family.

    Rummy.

  18. Status means you have full rights: abode, citizenship, own property, vote, etc. You can get it by birth, or by grant. Marriage takes 10 years, 7 of which must be resident on island. You must be a British or Commonwealth subject first.

    PRC (Permanent Resident Certificate) means you can own land at a 25% premium (additional tax levied), live here indefinitely, no need for a work permit, own your own business with no Bermudian interest, but you can’t vote, and you’re not a citizen. You remain a citizen of the land you originally were. Twenty years of residence is required, plus referees to vouch for you.

  19. Thanks Ren…

    I was really confused because I saw this entry on the Parliamentary Registry site regarding ‘who can register to vote’, & it threw me slightly.

    It may be that the phrase…”if you are Bermudian” includes those who are granted status. It’s not that cear.

    Anyway – here is the entry:

    Who can register to vote?

    Persons can register to vote if they are Bermudian and 18 years of age or older, or non-Bermudian Commonwealth citizens who were registered to vote on 1st May 1976. Persons who are not ordinarily resident in Bermuda if they reside outside of Bermuda for more than 6 month.

    http://www.elections.gov.bm/voting-faq.html

  20. Has anyone had one of tose new drinks being offered?

    The Martinren…….tink abowt hit…….Where the hell is dead lead when we need her……..

    FOUR…………………………………………….

  21. ren man….bermudians need some spine, and like minded people need to unite to the point where their collective numbers can prevent the side effects of using ones universal human rights while in bermuda.

    this is the next evolution of roosevelt browns universal adult sufferage movement

    his movement gave every one a equal vote but a vote with no value beyond the election itself

    this reform movement will make every vote more than a mass rubber stamp to elect political parties in bermuda that refuse to represent all the people when they become government.

    its going to take bermudians with some spine to do the ground work for this to take root in the grass roots community via eduction.

  22. The Voters Rights Association (VRA) has been promoting electoral reform including fixed term elections, absentee voting, voters’ initiatives and the right of recall. Intimidation has driven some supporters to keep a very low profile, but the cause remains active.

  23. How would the right of recall function in Bermuda? Who administers it and what would be the follow-up if an MP was recalled?

  24. From the VRA Bill of Voters Rights (draft, May 2008). The “Authority” referred to would be a Parliamentary Elections Commission, an appointed body that would oversee all elections matters:

    The right of constituents to recall the member of the House of Assembly elected from their constituency.

    The constituents of any constituency may requisition at any time the recall of their representative in the House of Assembly under Bermuda Constitutional Order, 1968 (the Constitution). Any person may circulate amongst the voters of his constituency a draft requisition for the recall of its representative in the House of Assembly. If 10 % of the voters registered in that constituency shall sign the draft requisition, then any person may present it to the authority responsible for administrating elections. Such authority shall confirm the signatures of constituents, and then issue an order terminating the representative’s term in the House of Assembly. The authority shall then conduct a bye-election in the constituency.

  25. I’m glad I just commute here once a week. Some of the seditious statements want me to retract. But I can’t.
    And now that I am being “moderated” her and on other sites only proves that certain people whom have a strangle hold yet denie ( sp) association only confirms my belief that BIAW.

    Blessed be the children and may theygo to school proud and the only vest they wear…………………….

    Gotta run….Mytsy horn dee lyne……peeking mee hup at Argus Towers for a sunset run……just wish they would invade instead of degrade….

    Ps. Dr. Brown says Mike Vick is doing well and there are no fleas………..

  26. the VRA needs to broaden its reform adjenda, to include introduction of a new model of Bermuda governance ie…gettin rid of the westminster system

  27. Persons can register to vote if they are Bermudian and 18 years of age or older, or non-Bermudian Commonwealth citizens who were registered to vote on 1st May 1976.

    Yes, the voting rights were extended to some Commonwealth citizens. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind it, or the criteria. Perhaps to extend political influence. Apparently 220 of those on that voter role are eligible for status.

    http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/bermuda/jbrres.html

    Bermudian is Bermudian, whether by birth or status grant. Makes no difference. Well, it makes no difference to sane people.

    Mr. Hayward, thanks for your insight and information.

  28. black press wrote:
    the VRA needs to broaden its reform adjenda, to include introduction of a new model of Bermuda governance ie…gettin rid of the westminster system.

    You might be surprised to learn how broad the VRA reform agenda is. Perhaps you’d like to join with the like-minded people of the VRA — or have them join your reform movement.

    Ren Man, thanks for your kind comments.

  29. post a link on vra contact…all the like minded people need to do more to fix this island.

  30. Thanks for the info Mr Hayward. Are there checks in place to ensure this would not get abused (e.g. if the draft requisition is repeated on a weekly basis)?

  31. black press: the VRA website is on the fritz. I’m cking into another link.

    Tryangle: I would think that the hurdle of acquiring a next round of signatures of 10% (this figure itself is arbitrary and could be adjusted upward if necessary) of the constituency would curb this type of abuse. However, we’d need to build in checks against all potential abuses.


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