by JC Jan
“Democracy is like a bicycle: one wheel is reconciliation, the other is justice; deprived of one, the wheel is not rolling.” Jean Leopold Dominique.
The above assertion by the late Haitian media titan and activist is no less true of any democratic dispensation that is worth its name.
One of the beauties of a democracy is the recognition of man’s right to freedom of expression and association — hotspots for the distribution of peace and justice.
For the institution of justice to attain its full functions under a democracy, then there must be room for a viable opposition which is captured under the right to freedom of expression and association. This is a quality that distinguishes democracy from any other form of government.
The importance of an opposition party in a democratic Grenada, on the one hand, cannot be over-emphasised for therein lies its very hallmark. For how do we checkmate our government and its attendant excesses if there is no opposition party to keep it on its toes and constantly remind it of the possibility of an alternative part that can form the new government in another election. Take for instance, a government is elected, and in its very first tenure it begins to display irresponsibility which leads to abuse of power. For justice to be served, the voting public must have the right to express their dissatisfaction with that government to opinion polls and ballots, and when the government is finally changed through a transparent election, the people get a feeling of justice for the maladministration meted them by that government. Herein lays the beauty of opposition in a democracy – the alternative to a bad government.
It takes away the notion of absolute power from a government, that totality that may misguide it in its quest to maximise authority.
On the other, a viable opposition serves as the watchdog and critical medium for any reigning government that prides itself as democratic. Beyond just presenting itself as an alternative party, the opposition sits at a vantage position where they reserve the right to criticize government policies which they feel are not in the best interest of the people. They also compel the government to act in places where they are found wanting through constructive criticisms that is not aimed at rubbishing that very government.
In Grenada, we have had the tonic of a relatively good governance, to move Grenada forward, we urgently need the tonic of a viable and formidable opposition party without which, the ruling party may have less or no incentive to improve on the policies that will ensure a better life not just for few, but for all of us.
Democracy is beautiful today because of such institutions as the opposition which is lacking in order forms of government and which makes it a popular and people-oriented form of administration.
Walter Lippmann was not alone in saying that “In any democracy, the opposition is not only tolerated as constitutional but must be maintained because it is indispensable”
In essence, any democratic dispensation that moves to disengage the opposition by whatever means is at best a despotic one.
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