REPORT #610 February 2003

By Ray Auxillou

Everybody is guessing about the national election results and who will win? The feeling in Belize City is much different than the feeling in rural villages where they have much less bombardment about campaign issues. Neither of the three groups contesting the election, the WTP, the UDP, or the PUP, really know how the people will vote? What is interesting is the amount of millions of dollars being spent by the PUP incumbents to keep control of the nation's, $400 million yearly revenues. Where the PUP are getting these millions for all this campaigning, based supposedly on a salary of supposedly only $40,000 a year is a huge mystery, after the departure of Ashcroft from the local party control contribution machine?

The voters themselves and how they will vote is not known? But looking back at the last election, there was a huge SWING VOTE of dissatisfied voters countrywide in all electoral divisions. The election before that one, also had a SWING VOTE, but it was much smaller than the last election. It is anybody's guess how the SWING VOTE will go for this election now there are three choices to pick from. But the SWING VOTE does show a growing maturity and understanding of what makes a nation work.

Obviously people are dissatisfied with how the country is being governed! They know you should not have to show allegiance to a party to get service from your government. In talking with people in different villages and also Belize City the main control spot for any government, it is amazing how evasive and close to the chest that people are keeping their vote. This leaves both major parties dancing like a cat trying to cross a corrugated zinc roof in the hot sun. The new 18 Independent Candidates Movement are at the bottom of the ladder with no spending money for the campaign and as a grass roots effort, ostensibly their chances of winning are starting from zero. They can only go up from there! But they are a threat, even if it is touted as a very small threat. Because if dissatisfied SWING VOTE people will just vote for the Independent Candidate in their division, there are indeed enough Independent Candidates with 18 running, to form a brand new government and change the model of how we are governed. Such a step would be the first on the way to growing up as a voter controlled conscious democracy. Belizeans are still crawling like a baby yet, when it comes to understanding what makes a potentially rich country like Belize even richer for all the population, in a fair and level playing field with justice and riches for all.

The SWING VOTE is what this election is all about! The PUP are obviously trying to buy people off with house lots, land deals and any permit or government problem that a person had; which is being solved with either action, or promises as the election day draws near.

The price of a vote varies country wide. But there are reports that in the Corozal South Division, a vote is worth a $1000? But in Corozal town a vote is only worth $300 and in Belize City a vote can be bought for $20 by the incumbents. Why the big difference in the price of vote buying, is not known? But obviously the port of Belize City voters are being treated as dumb cheapskates and not worth much?

The last two elections show a growing maturity among the nation's 115,000 voters. The juvenile era of treating people as ignorant, illiterate people who can be swayed with slogans, colored flags, dances and entertainment is no longer true. It used to be that way in the past, but comprehension of the issues is growing, as the independent minded majority swing voter in the last two elections has shown. This election is even better as the Swing Voter no longer has to express dissatisfaction with choosing the Lesser of Two Evils! The Independent WTP block Movement gives a third choice.

Among many rural voters there is still a lot of apathy. People are just trying to survive and earn enough money to send their children to school and put food on the table. The concept that the two major parties will control is still seemingly dominant as a vocal opinion? It is based on a myth, that though true in decades past is not true anymore. The myth was that in order to get anything done for your village, or electoral division, you had to vote for a winning major party. But in the last three elections, the SWING VOTE has shown how inaccurate that misconception really is.

People seem to be yearning for a real democratic government, one that works for everybody of any political persuasion under all governments. People don't seem to think very much about this issue? They seem baffled that the governing system is so crookededly corrupt and it cannot be fixed? Articulating why the governing system does not work well and fairly, is buried in the day to day struggle just to pay the bills and survive. The voter doesn't seem to understand they do have the control and the choice for the very first time in the history of Belize during this election. There is a third choice, the Independents, a beginning step on the way to a real working wealthy democracy.

The problem is clear to academic intellectuals, political scientists and people who study governing models. In Belize, the basic problem is that the three Executive Branches of: the Cabinet, the Senate and the House of Representatives are not separate as they are intended in a democratic system. For a fair governing system, it has been well known for 50 years that each of these three executive branches have to be divided by three separate groups of elected people and their duties defined by law. Usually the Cabinet is fixed to a small size of about seven people and these people should be just a managing body that only supervise Department heads, like a local Cooperative Managing Committee. They should have no Ministerial Discretion to tamper with any laws of the country at will, or to be used to persecute, or give political patronage. They have no powers to order major changes and cannot dispense favors and patronage. In a Senate, the idea is to have another elected group of people and the Senate is a Check and Balance based on geography, which in the case of Belize would be representing the interests of the six districts of Belize. The House of Representatives represent elected people by concentration of population numbers, who create laws and budgets for national department interests, to be implemented by the civil service.

In Belize, these three separate executive functions have been combined into one group of one party rule people, which are overlapping; this destroys the basic functions of democratic representative government. The PUP campaign budget alone of several million this election would pay for all the salaries in separate elected executive branches.

The only group offering a solution in this coming election are the WTP and the 18 Independents Movement. Neither of the two major parties wish to change the corrupting effects of using the same people in the Legislature, the Senate and the Cabinet for personal self enrichment. The man on the farm, or the fishing boat is unable to articulate these issues and so gets confused. He or she is well aware something is wrong in the governing system. The two major parties delight in swamping the ordinary voter with disinformation to distract them from thinking about the reasons for their SWING VOTE dissatisfaction. Nor does the voter usually have the time to consider the finer points of what makes a democracy work fairly; being consumed with survival and earning money needs to pay for everything. This of course is what the two major parties are counting on! That the politically illiterate voter will not understand the real issues effecting their lives and the necessary changes ( political reform ) to get a better government and wealthier life and country. The two major parties are counting on continuing a corrupt system for selfish self enrichment opportunities.

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