In the wake of the recent “snap” General Elections in Antigua and Barbuda back the group Antigua and Barbudans for Constitution Reform and Education (ABCRE) is calling on lawmakers to amend the Constitution for there to be a fixed date for General Elections.
ABCRE Chairman Ralph G. Bowen made a case at the ABCRE townhall at Perry Bay for there to be fairness in the process for the scheduling of an election date.
He says that the current process “is not fair”.
“First and foremost, it is not fair to us a citizens. It is not fair to us as electors.”
As it stands now, according to the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda General Elections may be held at such time:
Whereas by Section 61 (1) of the Constitution it is provided that a general election of Members of the House of Representatives shall be held at such time within three months after every dissolution of Parliament as the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.
Currently, General Elections are held within a five-year cycle from the date of the last election at the discretion of the sitting Prime Minister.
“Wouldn’t it be something if every citizen in Antigua and Barbuda… every aspiring politician… every political party knew that elections are going to be held on the second Tuesday in March every five years [for example]” asked Bowen.
“One, it allows you to plan your life, plan your vacation and don’t miss the vacation. Two, it allows the ruling party or the existing to actually govern. You don’t have to stay in perpetual campaign mode.”
“It also provides an opportunity for the aspiring politicians to get themselves ready for a particular day… to get their message together. And most importantly,” said Bowen, “it helps us as the electors because then you would then have the opportunity to truly benefit from what each side is actually saying and therefore be able to make an informed decision come election day.”
ABCRE director Franz DeFraitas bolstered Bowen’s overall position by saying that, “most countries in the world have a fixed date or some derivative of a fixed date election system.”
“So what we are proposing here is not new in the context of when elections happen or how elections happen.”