In the age of euphemisms, ill-conceived is the description I find this Wednesday morning for the Prime Ministerial Debate that was planned for Wednesday night, October 28. The debate was organized by RSV Media Limited (Love FM), the BCCI, and Galen University, and in their effort to show the Americans how their money was being used to advance our democracy, they lost their grounding and invited two leaders to the debate who have no chance of forming the next government.
A couple years or so ago the man in charge of the US Embassy in Belize was on Love FM almost, ehm, every day, talking about the great story of by the people, of the people, for the people in his country. At some point, funds from a program the Americans call the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) was funneled to the Love Foundation for use in the promotion of good governance. The US top man said, “Here in Belize, we are focusing on building citizen participation in the oversight of government, reducing corruption and making government accountable.”
Personally, I think if we want any help with our democracy, we should look to the more mature British, thank you.
Love’s claim to fame is playing popular old music. Well, give them an A for trying, they and the good folk they teamed up with. Basically, the debate story here amounted to simple theater; yes, it was a nice idea, and nothing more. What could be achieved by inviting four persons to a debate a couple weeks before the general election when two of them have zero chance of forming the next government?
Yes, the two leaders could end up as part of a coalition government, and they are both respectable and talented Belizeans, but they are both stymied by the oppressive First Past The Post system.
If four were actually in the race to become the next prime minister, and so had to be invited to the debate, the organizers would have had no easy task to make it produce meaningful results. These debates can rapidly descend into chaos, leaving the people even more undecided than they were before the event.
If you watched the debates for the aspirants for the Democrats in the US this year, it was a waste of time, because there were too many seats at the table. I thought Mr. Bloomberg was the class of the group, but what can you gain when you’re a cool cat and you are asked two questions over an entire night?
In the Republican aspirants’ debates in 2016, we saw the man who is now their president get attention by being brash. And with some candidates who were getting left out, trying to get themselves in, the whole shebang ended up being an exercise in bluster, with some sexual innuendo.
Properly, the organizers here should have held two debates, and the first one should have been between the leaders of the parties that we describe as third parties, if they could have gotten the leader of the third party that has been in the trenches to agree. The pandemic has us off balance, but this debate should have been held within a week of the Prime Minister announcing the dissolution of the House.
At that debate the leaders of those two parties would have had a chance to make some distinction between their plans for Belize. The stakes for that debate could have been a chance to get more differentiation between Patrick F and Johnny B, in another, higher stakes debate.
Four leaders in a leadership debate was two too many. In a sense, the new BPF spoiled things for the BPP, the far more established third party. A single third party would have had greater mass, and not being able to debate itself it might have, with a lot of work, put itself in a position where it might have forced itself onto a seat at the table with the big parties.
Ironically, the new BPF is the third party that comes closest to being able to send their leader to the big meeting with the Governor General, since they have thirteen candidates in the race, while the old BPP only has eight candidates. But the BPF coming closer to having enough candidates to form the next government does not make them more credible, doesn’t give them more clout, than the BPP.
The organizers, for whatever reasons, did not set the proper bar to qualify for a prime ministerial debate. I didn’t hear anyone inviting Kanye West to any presidential debate in the US. In the US there is a Commission on Presidential Debates, and the group seeks out the persons who are shown to have public support for their candidacy.
BALLOTPEDIA, which can be found at the website ballotpedia.com, says that as “of October 26, 2020, 1,224 candidates have filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for president.” That’s the number of people who could apply to run for the presidency of the USA. BALLOTPEDIA says they have four notable candidates running for president, notable candidates being those “who have qualified to appear on enough state ballots to win a majority—at least 270 electoral votes—in the Electoral College.”
On the matter of politics, if I were leader of the PUP or the UDP I would not have participated in a debate with the two third parties. I don’t have the competence to be a politician, but common sense tells me I wouldn’t forward myself in a situation where I have nothing to win, and something to lose. The third parties would pick at the main parties, and the main parties would pick at the main parties.
P.S. I guess we can say that there is a lee bit of all’s well that ends well in this story, because reports are that there will be a debate tonight, October 28, and two third parties will take the stage to explain their programs to improve Belize. That’s good that these parties get to share their views in a forum like this. But two weeks away from the general election, it should have been the leaders of the two main parties debating, for they are the only ones who have a chance at becoming the head man in the nation.
I hope to listen to this debate tonight, and if I do I’ll try to report next week.
I think the Acting Chief Justice, Madam Justice Michelle Arana, must have asked herself, why me, when the BPM brought such a difficult redistricting case for her to handle. Judges get big pay, by our standards, because they have a big job, and the present judge knew how tikilish the post she holds is sometimes.
The last Chief Justice presided over the request of gays for unfettered rights to their closet, and I must say he completely flubbed it. I can talk about the man bikaaz he already abandon the job. The judge was warned that the wikid people who brought the lawsuit would want more, that they would even try to kik down the whole fence, but he didn’t listen to regular folk.
Ah, mucho love to our Pope, and to our great brother, Jimmy Carter, but in Belize the closet is the limit. We are not ready to relinquish the keys. If you want to enter the closet, okay, and when yu done du yu mischief, give us a call and we wahn come and open the door and let you out.
On Wednesday the judge ruled against the injunction brought by the BPM, and until I read the ruling I’ll just say that practicality triumphed over the letter of the law. We really wouldn’t want to extend this election campaign during these cruel days of COVID.