Log In

Reset Password

Clash of enthusiasm

Curtis Dickinson remains a person of interest for those seeking a different style of leadership (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

What happens when in excess of half the electorate wants a change? No matter how you slice the pie, there are far more people today in Bermuda who want a new government than those who wish for the present government to continue.

So what is the problem and why can't this newly recognised majority just simply win? Perhaps, it is the age-old problem of zeal and ambition. Listen to the political rhetoric of the proponents of change whose hope is to wrestle the mantle of power away from the Progressive Labour Party.

The first defeatist mathematical impossibility presented by the combined new forces for change is the ambition of the One Bermuda Alliance and Free Democratic Movement to put forth 36 candidates, while the independents want to field 12 or 13. That formula almost ensures that the largest subset in the equation is the PLP, making it the group with the highest probability of winning.

The OBA narrowly won Smith’s North, a constituency that would appear to be a reasonably safe seat. In order for the Opposition to become the next government, it needs 13 more seats. For the FDM to win, it needs 18 seats unless it hopes for a coalition in the wake of winning 14 or 15 seats along with five or more seats won by the OBA and any combination of independents.

The same situation applies to the independents, who would need either to capture 13 seats or have a coalition with the FDM or OBA, assuming the aggregate of seats exceeds 18.

The fourth possibility is that after the election is called, and before a new government is formed, there is a defection in the PLP camp and a realignment of the MPs that coalesce with a new premier. On that note, it would be infinitely easier if that happened now. Curtis Dickinson's best political position as a transition agent is now; his potency erodes with each passing day. The Premier and party will show no fidelity towards him and will remove him the first chance they get.

When Bermuda politics is left to ambition and zeal, we have Quo Fata Ferunt, which invariably leads to status quo. Mutual and strategic planning is the only realistic way of consolidating all the new enthusiasts into an unassailable majority. However, the leadership ego may prevent rational or collaborative thought.

The strategic question that needs to be asked is, in which constituencies would an independent be favoured over an FDM candidate? Or, would an OBA candidate be favoured over an independent? This could determine the likelihood of success in any given constituency.

Ideology and message are also important because we don’t want change for change’s sake. The fundamental shift we need is to evolve our representative style of democracy towards a more participatory democracy. The only person today who has even rhetorically indicated the need to engage the electorate meaningfully is Sir John Swan, by using independents as interventionists.

Both the OBA and the FDM have drilled down on representative democracy — one preferring to shrink the size of the representation with the belief that by doing so it enhances freedom, when the reality is that less representation bears no relationship to freedom. The only shift towards freedom is when the base of decision-making power and authority is shifted to the people.

The way for this country to gain more freedom is by having an understanding of what freedom and liberty mean. While it may be good and sometimes even necessary to change leadership that is not serving the public good, society must guard against the tendency to replace a “bad king with a good king”, particularly when the idea is not to have a king at all.

Men are born free, and in an ideal world are free from the tyranny and the rule of any other except by consent. Society has been developing the idea of a social contract and, where it has evolved in its highest form, there is full accountability for all sectors.

No one, no administration, no monarch is above the law — the Magna Carta exists to ensure that even monarchs are bound to a contractual charter. Separation of powers is another feature of a free society. Society operates at its fullest when the smallest or least of its members can hold the state to account.

Our job in Bermuda, if change is our agenda, is to begin the march to freedom. To do so means changing not only the leaders but the political paradigm. The country should have learnt the lesson by now about what the pursuit of power brings. Now is the time to pursue purpose, and there could be no greater purpose than to establish a modern democracy as a human model for the world.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published June 18, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 17, 2024 at 2:42 pm)

Clash of enthusiasm

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon