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Proposals for the revised SVG Constitution

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by Cedric B Harold  02.JUN.06

I thank the editor of Searchlight for publishing my proposals for the revised SVG Constitution. It appears in 4 parts, the first following this introduction. This is intended as a ready reference to the constitution and not the law itself, so regulations have largely been omitted.

My proposal is a work in progress. One article is only mentioned. The section on Amendments lacks any reference to a referendum; there is no mention of local government. What I expect is to foment discussion and for others to carry my proposal forward. I believe there is a built-in bias in favour of retaining the Westminster model which does not serve us well. {{more}} There is no separation of powers in this model, and the eternal role of every opposition is to act like a set of snipers. In both US Houses of Congress, politicians sit without regard to party affiliation, as there is no government side and no opposition side. The basis of the US model is the equality of all under the law, with no one possessing privileges as a birthright – or lacking them for the same reason. Please send comments to the CRC and to this newspaper.

Preamble.

Clause I: Statement justifying the need for a Constitution.

We the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Clause II: Fundamental Rights and Freedoms not deriving from any Constitution because we are all born with them, and which we require our Constitution to guarantee.

Every person in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is endued with fundamental rights and freedoms, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed or sex, but subject to respect to the rights and freedoms of others, to each and all of the following:

• Life, liberty, security of the person, and equality under law;

• Freedom of conscience, of expression, and of assembly and association; and

• Privacy of his home and other property, and from deprivation of property without just compensation.

Clause III: The right to life.

The Constitution shall not contain any clause or other provision which will permit any court or agency of government the power to impose the penalty of death upon anyone, save only in the case where the nation is engaged in actual warfare and decisions of life and death must needs fall within the purview of commanders on the battle field.

Clause IV: Reserve powers. Powers not delegated to the State by the Constitution are reserved to the people.

Clause V: The Franchise. All Vincentian nationals resident in the State, who are adult at the time they register to vote, and who on polling day are not in prison or declared to be of unsound mind, shall have the right to vote.

Clause VI: The Election Process and its Outcome.

Section 1: Elections to the House of Representatives

For purposes of representation, the State will be divided into a number of non-overlapping constituencies. Within any constituency, one or more persons will offer themselves as candidates seeking to represent that constituency. If there is one candidate only, there will be no election and that person will be declared the Member in the House of Representatives for that constituency. Otherwise, there will be an election, and the winner will be whoever receives the majority of the votes cast in that constituency.

Section 2: Elections to the Senate.

For purposes of representation, the State will be regarded as one constituency and the names of all those offering their services as candidates will be presented in grouped categories. The voting public will be asked to select and vote for one member from each group. The member from each group receiving the largest number of votes will be declared a Senator.

Section 3: The President and Vice-President

For purposes of representation, the State will be regarded as one constituency and the names of all those offering their services as candidates will be grouped into pairs in such a way that it is obvious who is running for President and who is that candidate’s Vice-President. The elector will indicate with a single vote the pair he or she is voting for. If more than two candidates vie for the position of President, the winner must get at least 50% of the votes cast. If no candidate gets such a plurality, there shall be a second run-off election where the only candidates will be those who got the highest and the second highest number of votes in the first ballot, and the winner of the second ballot shall be declared President, and his running mate Vice-President.

Continued next week.

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