The PLP’s Constitutional Carnival of Democracy
As Bernews reported earlier today, this year is an election year for the PLP as per their constitution.
At this years Annual Delegates Conference, scheduled for October 23rd, all positions of the Party Executive will be up for election.
I understand that the positions (see Article V of the PLP constitution [PDF]) open to election this year are:
- Party Leader
- Deputy Leader
- Deputy Chairman
- Secretary General
- Assistant Secretary General
- Membership Secretary
- Three (3) Assistant Organisers
- Assistant Treasurer
- Public Relations Officer
Now, while all of these positions are equally important to the party, with each providing a vital role, I think it’s likely that the ones that are going to capture the attention of both the general public and PLP members are going to be those of Party Leader, Deputy Leader, Chairman and, possibly, the Public Relations Officer.
At the moment the only known candidates, in a public sense, for any of these positions are that of Party Leader, where, according to the Bernews article cited above, the incumbent Marc Bean will be running along with Walton Brown.
I think we’re likely to see a third candidate for the Leadership as well, and also a couple candidates for the Deputy position. Whether or not we’ll see a joint ticket ‘team’ or not, I’m not sure.
Strong Democratic Tradition
While I am no longer a member of the PLP, I have always been impressed by the PLP’s ability to have a healthy democratic conversation, through these elections, which has allowed them to consider alternative visions and directions for their party, without tearing themselves apart into factional ‘civil war’.
Despite how some outside of the PLP, especially their political opponents (be they UBP/OBA or simply anti-PLP) have sought to frame these contests, they are not the factional schisms that these opponents dream of.
For sure, passions can rise, and there are sometimes groups which may be described as factions, but in general the PLP is strengthened by these contests, not weakened.
Indeed, it helps allow any disagreements to be discussed openly and constructively, rather than letting them build up and be expressed in a negative, cloak and dagger manner, or, worse, through a schism or ‘palace coup’.
Now, of course, it doesn’t always work, as our history has shown, first with the PLP-NLP schism in the 1980s and, more recently, with the 2003 election night controversy.
Now, to what degree those two incidents stemmed from a failure of internal democracy, an ugly streak of misogyny, irreconciliable ideological differences, impatience or something else, well, I’ll leave that up for discussion. Personally I think the main animating forces are a partial failure of internal democracy, some misogyny and impatience, in varying measures….
For the most part though, the contested nature of these elections is a strength of the PLP, and never a weakness, despite the desires of their opponents.
Contested Elections Strengthen Functional Unity
There should always be a contest for the leadership positions, and the PLP is stronger for having them. They have a strong and proud democratic tradition which allows for competing visions to be articulated while retaining functional unity.
I am looking forward to the various candidates for these positions, and particularly those contesting for the leadership, putting forward their visions for the PLP and why they’re the best candidates for those positions.
I wish them all the best and encourage, especially the leadership contenders, to fully articulate their visions for progressive labour and what direction they intend to take the PLP.
Following their defeat, the PLP has been undergoing a period of internal reconstruction – being in Opposition serves as a catalyst for such evolution – and this leadership contest allows the wider party to gauge where they’re at and where they want to be, and how to get there.
I am confident that whoever emerges as the Leader of the PLP will act in a spirit of doing what’s best for the PLP and making full use of the talents available to them. In other words, I’m sure there will not be any spiteful actions taken out against the loser, but rather a spirit of camaraderie and mutual interest.
Which way forward for the PLP?
As noted, I’m no longer a member of the PLP, but I am looking forward to looking in from outside while the PLP engages in their constitutionally mandated carnival of democracy.
It is this tendency of the PLP – the contestation of the Leadership – which helps tor recreate and rejuvenate this party. It is a key source of their strength and unity, however paradoxical it may seem to those outside it.
Just as the regular contesting of parliamentary elections helps with our political evolution and development of new policies and visions for Bermuda, so does the internal elections of a party. Having these positions contested is a mark of a healthy and vibrant organisation, while a de facto coronation is a symptom of a sterile and moribund organisation at risk of imploding under its own dead weight.