A Democratic National Alliance government would pursue constitutional reforms that would make snap elections a thing of the past, according to party leader Joanne Massiah.
In an interview with Observer media, the DNA standard bearer said that the creation of fixed term elections would be “a priority” for her government.
“I believe the majority of people, as we listen to them, want fixed term elections. [But] because of the system of government that we follow, the Westminster system, that does not call for that, certainly this will take a lot of consultation, Massiah said.
The Westminster system is a vestige of the country’s British colonial past. However, the U.K. in 2011 passed the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. Under the law, elections for the House of Commons are to be held on the first Thursday in May after every five years. While earlier elections are still possible, the law does curtail the prime minister’s power to call snap polls.
Antigua and Barbuda’s general election was constitutionally due by June next year, but it is widely believed that Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s call for the snap poll, more than a year ahead of the deadline, caught his political rivals on the back foot.
The DNA, for example, had been undertaking a roll-out of its candidates individually, and that process was still underway when Browne announced the election date on February 24. The party is now contesting 13 of the 17 constituencies.
How then does the DNA reassure the public that it is ready for government?
“It takes nine elected members to form a government, first past the post system, and we have men and women in the DNA whose skillsets, talent and experiences, both in government and in the private sector, speak for themselves,” Massiah said.