For their own reasons, some are questioning the presence of several smaller parties in the General Elections.
They constantly speak with derision or suspicion about these parties as if they are doing something wrong by exercising their constitutional and democratic right to participate in elections.
This questioning comes most from the so-called major parties and their supporters. They accuse the smaller parties of “splitting votes” as if citizens’ votes somehow “belong” to the “major parties” in their “safe seat strongholds”. They also demand accountability from these smaller parties which the “major parties” themselves are not willing to subject themselves to before the electors regarding their financing and otherwise.
They ask spurious questions about this or that party which has one candidate. But, no similar questions about other with the same number or even zero candidates.
Our election law does not require any political party to field a specific or even a minimum number of candidates in the 41 constituency elections of a General Election or in any other election. Individuals are also free to be candidates as independents with their own symbols.
Do those speculating and sowing suspicion about small parties, know who finances the PNM, UNC or any other party and how much?
In 2014, it was estimated that the PNM and UNC spend $500 — $600 million in total in any election.
Each candidate is required to account for $50,000 in election expenses.
But big parties which spend millions on print and radio ads, tv broadcasts, posters, banners, T-shirts, campaign consultants and micro-targeting companies, drivers, rallies and busing rent-a-crowd followers to meetings, even paying people to walk with candidates, etc DO NOT have to account for a cent or where it comes from.
The PNM promised campaign finance legislation but only took the Bill to Parliament a few months before elections knowing it could not be passed in that time.
Political parties are NOT corporate bodies and are NOT registered. Only symbols are registered (read the Representation of the People Act, Chapter 2:01 of our Laws).
A trade union on the other hand, must be registered by a fixed number of people and with a constitution approved by the Registrar of Trade Unions.
A union is required to file an Annual Return of the number of its members and have its financial statements audited annually by an auditor appointed by the Registrar.
A union is, therefore, in law, a quasi (semi) corporate entity and can be sued for breach of contract and some other matters, although not for negligence and other civil wrongs.
A political party, on the other hand, has no corporate personality in law and cannot be sued as a party.
So, a trade union which represents the interest of its members is more publicly accountable than a political party, the leader of which can be Prime Minister and members of which form Government and are supposed to represent the interests of the entire nation.
There is no need to focus special attention on any small party. As electors, with a right to an informed vote, we should be really concerned about every one of the political parties since they are all not corporate entities in our electoral law and accountable to no one and completely unregulated.
What we must have, as citizens, is the right to select and elect our political representatives.
So-called major political parties which are not accountable to the electors have claimed the right to select candidates who they impose on us in our constituencies and are now even questioning the Right of citizens to participate in the election process (two-party system) which they want to continue to monopolise.
A Citizen Fighting for Democratic Renewal of our Electoral and Political Processes.