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The PUP and the SECOND municipal elections

EditorialThe PUP and the SECOND municipal elections

There are TWO local elections in our two cities and seven towns during the mandate of any national government, and the only way that could change, to ONE, would be if a government dissolved before completing three years of its five-year mandate, which has never happened. The first of these local elections is held during a period when a government is fresh, and the second is held when a government has been in office for some time. Naturally, the second election, which precedes a general election by two years or less, is a lot more interesting.

Belizeans turn out for elections whenever they are called. Jan Brennan of the National Civic League, in the article, “Increasing voter turnout in local elections”, noted that only 15-27% of eligible voters cast their ballots in local elections in the USA. Brennan cited a number of barriers voters face in local elections, the most notable being inconvenient election timing. Brennan said that since 2016, when Baltimore consolidated local elections with “highly visible federal and state contests … voter turnout soared from just 13% to 60%” in that city.

In the 2021 municipals, 56.99%; in 2018, 57.23%; and in 2015, 59.44% of voters cast their ballots. National issues are very much on the minds of voters as they go to the polls in the second of the two municipal elections every government has to face. On March 6, the present government, PUP, was tested in the second, the more important of the two municipal elections, a year and a half before its mandate runs out and a general election must be called, if there are no extenuating circumstances.

There are many immediate interpretations of election results, but all the numbers have to be crunched, and the stories that happened behind the scenes factored in, before the deeper meanings of the results are fully understood.

Generally, a massive victory for the ruling party in the second municipal elections means it stays on course with its initiatives, and maybe becomes arrogant; a marginal victory makes it work harder and review its strategies; a government that experiences a marginal loss works harder, but is also likely to become more invested in selfish interests. Any party that gets a serious message at the polls that its time in office is numbered is inclined to become like the incompetent steward in Luke 16:1-13 who went out and made some dishonest deals with his master’s assets.

There’s also a number of messages in the results of municipal elections for the main opposition, and the responses it must consider. Thus far, at best, the performances of third parties have garnered only lukewarm interest, and that’s because their numbers are usually dismal.

The results are in, and the PUP sailed to a massive victory, winning 53 councilor seats out of 58, and 8 mayoral seats out of 9. The defeated UDP, which has been having internal issues, wasn’t the biggest hurdle for the PUP in this election. The biggest adversary for the PUP in the 2024 municipal elections was/is the tough economic times here and the world over. The people said they’re sticking with Plan Belize.

The UN, for the “benefit all of humanity” despite the P5

The United Nations (UN) succeeded the League of Nations, a group of militarily powerful European countries and their satellites that presided over world affairs after WWI, until 1946.

The report, The United Nations and Decolonization, from the desk of the United Nations (UN), says “When the United Nations was established in 1945, 750 million people – almost a third of the world’s population then – lived in Territories that were non-self-governing, dependent on colonial Powers.” The Declaration on Decolonization passed by the UN General Assembly in 1960 called for “a speedy and unconditional end” to “colonialism in all its forms and manifestations”, because “all people had a right to self-determination.” The UN says “more than 80 former colonies have gained their independence.” In 2023, the flags of 193 independent nations are represented at UN Headquarters in New York City.

Belize is an independent nation because of the United Nations. Overwhelmingly, the nations of the world met in a General Assembly and declared that Belizeans had a right to choose their future in the space in which they have officially existed since 1859, and that’s why on September 21, 1981, our flag unfurled alongside those of other nations at UN headquarters.

The United Nations says the organization “remains the one place on Earth where all the world’s nations can gather together, discuss common problems, and find shared solutions that benefit all of humanity.”

There is no perfect thing under the sun. At times the UN has faltered in the execution of its mandate, and that is largely because five countries – USA, Russia, China, the UK, and France – the P5, have veto power over decisions made by the UN and its Security Council (UNSC). The UN says those countries got that power “because of their/ key roles/ in establishing” the world body. Everyone knows that the P5 were “granted” that power because of their monetary contributions and the weaponry in their arsenal.

The UN says, “France and the United Kingdom have not exercised their veto power since 1989.” But two of the P5 have, and too often they have not exercised their veto based on humanitarian ideals, but for the protection, forwarding of their selfish interests. The UN says Russia has used its veto 155 times and the US 90 times, one-third of the US’s vetoes since 1972 going to block resolutions critical of Israel. The US has also persistently rejected calls for it to end its economic embargo on Cuba.

The selfish use of the veto, sometimes to support violent and racist interests, has caused some countries and outspoken individuals to question the value of the UN in our world today. The body is presently under fire from some quarters because a US veto blocks it from forcing Israel to end its cruel, criminal bombardment of Gaza. The UN sent troops to Haiti after Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in a military coup in 2004, and to establish order so that humanitarian aid could be provided after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010. Some of those troops sexually violated Haitian girls and women, and a few of them were infected with cholera and that led to a severe epidemic.

There are calls from some quarters for the UN to not intervene in Haiti to arrest the present chaos. If that is a serious position, it could do with some rethinking. The UN didn’t deliberately introduce cholera to Haiti, nor did it encourage any of its troops to commit violations. The UN is all we have. Although sullied at times by the P5, the UN is the hope of all people who believe in freedom, justice and equality.

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