A new system of government
September 7, 2011
More and more commentators seem to be saying that Bermudians generally are fed up with the present confrontational system of government. With an election apparently looming, when will one of the parties have the guts to announce as the centrepiece of their platform that they will immediately upon election set into motion the required processes for changing the system? Attached is a suggestion as to how a new system might look, placing far more responsibility in the hands of the voting public and removing institutionalised confrontation. I am sure that there would be many other possibilities which could be explored.
To design a system of government for Bermuda which will eliminate the adversarial and divisive aspects inherent in the existing Westminster system and which will provide every Bermudian voter with an equal opportunity to take part in the selection of the members of that government.
StructureGovernment shall consist of two separate bodies.
1. The directly elected managing body, consisting of 12 members elected by the voters. This body will be responsible for the formulation of government policy.
2. The selected overseeing body, consisting of 8 members, two selected by the governor, two selected by the managing body, and four elected by the voters. This body will be responsible for the oversight and approval or rejection of the formulated policy.
Should either body be deadlocked over an issue, or should the overseeing body reject a proposed policy, then the matter will be put to a binding national referendum within three weeks.
Implementation of policy will be the responsibility of a professional, full time, civil service, which will at all times be politically neutral.
ElectionElection day shall be the third Tuesday in June on every third anniversary year following the initial election.
Bermuda will comprise one constituency. Elections will be held on an island wide basis every three years. Each voter shall have one vote for a managing body candidate and one vote for an overseeing body candidate. In the initial election the 12 candidates receiving the most votes in the contest for the managing body will form that body and the four candidates receiving the most votes in the contest for the overseeing body will take their places on that body.
After the initial election members of both bodies will draw lots in order that half of the members will relinquish their places prior to the first three year election, the places to be filled in this election. Subsequently all members will serve for 6 years, with half of the seats becoming vacant prior to each election in rotation.
Elections will then take place every three years. In elections subsequent to the initial one the six candidates receiving the most votes for managing body and the two candidates receiving the most votes for the overseeing body will fill the vacant seats on their respective bodies. Appointed members of the overseeing body will follow the same pattern, with half relinquishing their seats every three years automatically, and being replaced or reappointed as the case may be.
No candidate standing in an election shall broadcast during the three month campaign period immediately prior to the election for more than one hour total on television or radio, nor have an advertisement of more than one page total in the print media. Media must allot equal interview time or space to each candidate. Candidates deliberately circumventing these limits will be disqualified from standing.
Should a seat become vacant through death, illness or other incapacity of the candidate then a by-election shall be held to fill that seat for the remainder of its allotted term, except that, if the vacancy occurs in the last year of the allotted term, its filling will be deferred until the scheduled election.
In the event that the general population is dissatisfied with the performance of the government a petition for a special election to replace all elected members, signed by 15% of the voters registered, will automatically trigger the immediate dissolution of government. A general election must be held within three weeks of the dissolution. A government elected in this manner shall proceed as if it was elected on the third Tuesday of June of the year of the special election and all subsequent elections will be held on the three year anniversaries of that day.
EligibilityAny Bermudian registered voter is eligible for election providing he or she has never served a term of imprisonment for a criminal offence and has been normally resident in Bermuda for the five years preceding the election . A candidate must be nominated by a Bermudian and have the signed support of 100 registered voters. A good-faith deposit of $1000 will be required and will be forfeit to government if less than 100 votes are cast for the candidate.
Organisation As soon as practicable after it is elected, and within at most 14 days, the managing body will elect from within its numbers such officers as shall be deemed by the body as necessary for the conduct of meetings and the formulation of policy. (ie Chairman, Vice Chairman), and will elect members to specific areas of responsibility as required.
The selected members of the overseeing body must be named within two weeks of the election and that committee will immediately elect from within its number Chairman, Vice Chairman etc..
Frequency of meetings will be established by the managing body. Attendance records of both bodies will be kept and published monthly in the official gazette, with a summary of attendance published one month before election day. All meetings will be open to the media.
All members of both bodies must declare all of their business interests and must disqualify themselves from participation in any matter which involves businesses in which they are interested. They are forbidden from using their influence to benefit such interests.
When decisions must be reached by vote, as opposed to consensus, then the matter shall be decided by a simple majority, with each member of the body having one vote. Ballots may be by show of hands or, if requested by a member, secret ballot. As specified above, tied votes must go to a binding national referendum.
RemunerationAll members of both governing bodies shall be paid an annual salary equivalent to the salary of the highest paid civil servant plus 30 percent.
Overseas travel on government business shall draw the same allowances as a senior civil servant and must be approved by both the managing body and the overseeing body.
Government Advisory Boards or Committees
Government Advisory bodies will be established as determined necessary by the managing body, and members will be appointed for a period of three years to coincide with election years. Each body will determine the frequency of its meetings and minutes of the meetings must be available to the public and the media. The managing body is not bound to act on the advice of an advisory body but must record publicly the reasons for not doing so.