Politicians in Belize are focus on winning elections at all cost; they attempt to increase voter turnout by fast tracking citizenship for central American Immigrants and by paying citizens both to register and to vote. But in doing so, they’re missing something important: the broken two-party system; and the pyramid economy that they have built with a weak foundation, which is crumbling before our eyes. How, then, when it comes to general elections, can they expect the young Belizean voter to be enthusiastic with PUDP choices they are being served — The young Belizean voter knows that we have no meaningful choice at all.
Young Belizean voters will be demanding More Choices
This generation and the next, are very different from what Belizean Politics has so far witnessed. These new voters hold more progressive views on social issues, and are more likely to Demand stronger more approachable, more educated Leaders, than previous generations. How will this translate into their decision to affiliate with political parties is the million-dollar question.
It is an exciting time to be involved in Politics. In 2020…none of the old rules will apply. This new generation will not be lenient, they will not be herded like sheep, they will not be as tolerant, and I do not believe they will sell their vote. This New group of voters will register at last minute, they are discussing political options and they want their voices heard. They do not believe in party loyalties anymore …they have seen the damage and destruction it causes. This would mean that a strong, feasible third party would have excellent chances in 2020…but hold on; not so fast.
Belize’s electoral system, the “first past the post” or “winner-take-all” system, inherited from British colonialism, is set up to give only two parties any meaningful chance to win elections and govern. So, voters who favour a third party candidate, are afraid to “waste their votes” and risk that their least favoured candidate wins; so, must decide between casting a strategic vote for the “lesser of two evils” or casting a vote for their first choice, which could actually help their least favoured candidate to win. So, to stop playing dangerous political guessing games we must not only advocate for mandatory voting but also for a multi-party system to be put in place, this is the only way for elections to truly reflect the choice of voters.
Look at what has happened under our noses ….
In accordance with Section 84 (2) of the Belize Constitution, General Elections are to be held every five years to elect the members of the House of Representative. There are presently thirty-one (31) members who represent the thirty-one electoral divisions in the country. Yet, we have had General elections in 2008, 2012 ( note this is 4 years ) and then 2015 ( note this was only 3 years ) . So, when will next elections be held? We are now pass Due, if we lean on the presidency of calling early elections…. Careful…any excuse is good enough to call elections; and Without a change to the electoral system, the third parties will struggle to win a single seat in any elections—It is a far cry from being able to channel the energy from Social Media or protest movements to the polls on election day. Still, The Present Government, under the United Democratic Party is now viewed as the Most corrupt Government Belize has ever had. The People’s United Party is not far from the same…The norm as far as Belizean Political MO, would be we get angry with one party and vote in the next…and we keep doing this in circles…
This time however, The PUP has been unable to regain the confidence of the People and it’s Leader is hell bent on making the “People’s Party” , His own boys club by expelling people , dividing his party, and making dangerous enemies for himself within. So, Young voters are turning away from all this double taking, corruption, exclusivity, fear tactics, and treason of the PUDP.
The Tide is changing
Voters, I believe would be happy to welcome a feasible, stable, strong and well organized third Party, but instead the choice we are giving them, is extremely unstable with VIP losing not just candidates, but their founder as well, to the BPP and everyone in the BPP playing dancing chairs with the Belizean voters. We no longer know which of the third-party candidates are with which party. If they are not focused and united, they will never gain the confidence of donors and much less will they gain the confidence of the New Belizean voters. We are in a dark political hole, unless a new strong and sustainable option emerges with strong nationalistic ideals, to stir the emotions and passions of our youth, as well as to advocate to Modernize our electoral system and administration. This is critical to removing barriers to women and third party participation and instilling confidence that each vote counts. But if voters are not given, new and meaningful choices at the ballot box, why should they bother to show up?