New decade, new approach

New decade, new approach

Fifteen Members of Parliament-elect (MPs-elect) will take the oath today, Monday February 10. Six of them are newcomers, while the NA faction includes three current ministers expected to return as such in the next cabinet being formed.

If these indeed re-join the executive branch, they must abandon the legislature within three months to be succeeded by their party’s candidates next in line based on personal votes. It’s also possible that one or more of the four elected representatives of coalition partner UP becomes minister, in which case the next in line on that slate would get into Parliament too.

Half a dozen new MPs does translate to an injection of – some say much-needed – “fresh blood” into the local political establishment. That at least part of the electorate was looking for something different appears clear from the youth party PFP earning two seats in its first contest at the polls.

Several MPs who won’t be returning, during last Wednesday’s meeting to approve the credentials of the incoming ones expressed hope that they would serve the full four-year term. This has proven quite elusive since country status was attained per 10-10-10 and with it the dualistic system of government according to the “Trias Politica” (separation of powers) democratic rule.

Many blame the latter plus the “free mandate” that allows legislators to break with the party and keep their seat even if they did not earn such themselves outright, which in this case none did. They can then help form new majorities to send home the Council of Ministers, which subsequently dissolves Parliament and calls early elections.

This vicious cycle of political instability needs to be broken by executing the highest representative function in the land as intended. When there is substantive disagreement within factions, first try to find common ground, seek compromise where possible and, if ultimately necessary, vote against party lines, but don’t abuse that privilege for often opportunistic reasons to become independent parliamentarian and throw down governments.

As contradictory as it may sound, there is hope that the mostly young newcomers will show the kind of maturity that has been lacking in Parliament. It was interesting to hear SMCP leader Wycliffe Smith say that already several younger MPs who joined the legislature because of the change in government late last year had notably been at the office whenever he came to work, meaning that certainly didn’t go for everyone.

New decade, new approach.