Opposition power

A political opposition is not and should not be about winning a debate; embarrassing the political party in power, measuring scandals, call for resignations, commission of inquiries or court cases, blocking or getting the proposed legislation withdrawn, but is all about strengthening and balancing the resulting nation’s laws.

Remembering that, both the elected ruling and the opposition parties as members of parliament and lawmakers are jointly responsible for new laws and amendments enacted during their period of service.

The parliament, elected lawmakers, and it subcommittees are mandated to keep the executive cabinet in check. Cabinet decisions, made behind closed doors, which require changes to existing laws, must be brought to the parliament, and it is at this stage that the people’s representatives have a say and in most cases their only say.

The views of constituents and special interests, who will be negatively impacted by the proposed changes, must form part of the debate.

Noting that, the majority of parliamentarians are from the ruling party and hence will support the cabinet changes, it falls to the opposition parliamentarians to raise differing views.

It is widely accepted that all politicians are in the business of winning elections, hence out of power, they debate only to oppose. The party in power proposes only legislation that can be passed, with the majority presently held and would only propose legislation, where opposition support is needed, to show the public an uncaring opposition.

While, philosophically a political opposition must care about the nation’s development and its main concern must be about protecting (the rights of the people) the existing constitution.

The political opposition must therefore call for the raw data, its source and collection methodology, call for witness statements, investigate thoroughly, examine the resulting facts behind any proposed legislative changes and propose strong detail language into the legislation.

Hence the call for all parliamentarians to support an independent National Statistical Institute (reporting at preset times directly to the public on statistical data; household, population demographics, goods/services, with a governor and board appointed by the president) and an independent Office of Budgets (reporting as scheduled directly to the public on financial data; aligned with approved current estimates, forecasting on the short, medium and long-term effects of newly proposed policies before implementation and efficiencies ratios, especially as to cash flow, local and foreign currency public debt).

Going to the electorate, in the future, with a manifesto listing legislative accomplishments, which were brought to strengthen the nation’s laws, while serving in opposition, is the only way to show a commitment to the nation and its people, in or out of power.

Terrance A. Jennings

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