Is the ‘honeymoon’ over?

There is of no express provision in our supreme law for a new administration’s entitlement to a so-called “honeymoon period” after its election to office. According to political lore, this describes a passage of time during which the measures implemented by a government are not judged as severely as they otherwise would be after a year or two in office.

Of course, the innate Barbadian sense of fair play and “cuddear” would demand that any such administration be permitted a period of acclimatization to accustom itself to the reins of office and to implement its policies as outlined in its manifesto. To this extent, one can surmise that there may be a political convention to that effect although its precise outer time limits remain unclear.

Further, with the margin of victory enjoyed by the incumbent administration in the recent general election, it should have anticipated on its part that it would have enjoyed a substantial honeymoon of sorts, especially since the nature of its electoral triumph suggested a substantial degree of popular disgust with the then Democratic Labour Party administration.

However, some recent aspects of the public discourse lead us to the view that any honeymoon that might have existed is swiftly dissipating as the measures engendered by the enormity of the task of economic recovery impinge severely on the pockets of the populace.

The reduced availability of individual disposable income that played such a significant role in the demise of the last administration has inevitably returned with some of the fiscal measures created by the BLP administration, even though it has not failed to take some partisan political advantage of the impact of these measures by attributing their necessity to the shoddy financial mismanagement of the former administration.

From the fuel tax to the imposition on water and sewage bills to the haircuts on certain government paper instruments, the popular reaction appears to be unfavourable, even though we concede that there are more than a few, not all partisans, prepared to wrap themselves in the flag and to publicly express their support for these new measures.

We do not deduce from this however that the current popular discontent inures immediately to the political advantage of the Democratic Labour Party; but simply that a political honeymoon may last only so long as conditions remain fiscally advantageous for the individual elector. Once that period has elapsed, the incumbent administration must figuratively paddle its own canoe.

Increasingly, the political fig leaf of holding the previous administration culpable for these unpopular measures will grow narrower and the administration will then be forced to draw on its substantial public relations resources to allay the popular disquiet.

The recent conclusion of the loan facility with the International Monetary Fund that serves to maintain the existing parity of the Barbados dollar to the US dollar gives us hope that all is not yet lost. The matter now becomes entirely a political effort for the governing administration to persuade the nation that better days are in the offing should we just hold strain for now.
Every patriot should wish the government well. It would be churlish to do otherwise.

Barbados Advocate

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