Tue | Jul 23, 2024

There are benefits to having fixed election dates

Published:Thursday | June 13, 2024 | 12:07 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

The Jamaican diaspora unquestionably brings significant benefits to Jamaica.

Jamaicans at home and abroad aspire to see the country progress towards enduring economic prosperity. The Jamaican diaspora, in its fight for the rights of its brothers and sisters like Marcus Garvey, play a pivotal role in this journey.

Acknowledging the experiences of those in the diaspora, it becomes evident that travel yields two potential outcomes: a deepened appreciation for one’s home and/or a new-found motivation to enhance it upon returning.

To this end, I will argue that the diaspora and local private sector should try to offer incentives for fixed election dates.

Fixed election dates establish consistency by providing citizens, political parties, and businesses with a predictable timeline for electoral events, thereby facilitating better planning and reducing uncertainty.

This could allow those in the diaspora the opportunity to time their travel to the island to allow them to vote.

On the surface, that could be problematic as the diaspora does not have to live with the direct consequences of their vote. But this doesn’t recognise that those of the diaspora who spend part of the year in their homeland, own property, pay taxes, invest, own bank accounts, and send remittances to family members, for example, are to varying extent, impacted by policies implemented by governments back home.

Given factors like the cost of travel and the loss of work hours, the number of the diaspora who would vote is predictably very small. Naturally, the politicians who benefit from the status quo would fear this change.

There is then a need for recognition if it is done, and a loss of social credibility if it is not.

Fixed election dates promote equity by ensuring all parties have adequate time to prepare for their campaigns, preventing the ruling party from exploiting the timing to its advantage. It would also encourage citizen engagement by providing a clear schedule, potentially increasing voter turnout and fostering greater civic involvement.

DEAN BURROWES