EDITORIAL: Lessons from the UK and the USA

FOR a region that has repeatedly been schooled on how to conduct politics by both the United Kingdom and the United States, the Caribbean must be wondering whether there are any lessons that can be learnt from the political developments taking place in those two countries.

Democracy and the rule of law have always been issues which the two powers have tried to impress on the tiny Caribbean islands who have pursued with some degree of success, an effective parliamentary democracy system. In the majority of cases, the two-party system, which mirrors that in the UK, is prevalent in the Caribbean islands, with the Prime Minister having enormous power as head of the Cabinet and Government.

At times when the system experienced some setbacks like the coup in Grenada in 1979, hiccups in Guyana in the 1980s and the coziness which some states had with Communist Cuba, politicians are known to have evoked apprehension in both developed countries as to the importance of democracy and free and fair elections. In some cases delegations from the USA, and other big countries, have come to the Caribbean to oversee our elections.

Over the past two weeks, happenings in the United States with President Donald Trump have triggered some proceedings against him. Mr. Trump, according to news reports out of the USA, is the subject of an impeachment inquiry by his Democratic opponents who think that his recent dealings with a foreign power, in this case Ukraine, and subsequent comments he made on that issue, warrant the action.

The reports have said that the US President wanted his Ukrainian counterpart to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, who is likely to be Mr. Trump’s political opponent in next year’s US Presidential elections.

While we do not know the full details about what these matters entail, we can, judging from the comments from the President’s opponents and other independent commentators, assume that all might not be right.

Across the Atlantic, the UK is in a tightrope with this Brexit issue. Two years ago, Britons voted 52 per cent to 48 per cent in a referendum for their leaders to take their country out of the European Union (EU). The EU is one of the world’s most durable economic integration movements, with the UK being a member dating back to the 1970s.

But that process of getting the UK out of the EU is proving to be difficult. Former Prime Minister Theresa May could not succeed, given the fact that she was unable to get the full backing of Parliament. Eventually she quit and was replaced by Boris Johnson.

Mr. Johnson has been very energetic in dealing with this matter to the point that he had even suspended Parliament ahead of the Brexit deadline, which is October 31.

But in a dramatic turn of events, the British High Court ruled that the Prime Minister had acted illegally to suspend Parliament, while overturning the decision.

Leaders do what they have to do. Most importantly, the Caribbean will look on and see how these matters eventually pan out, and in doing so hope that democracy is strengthened.

Barbados Advocate

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