PNP presidential race a credit to democracy

Editorial

PNP presidential race a credit to democracy

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

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Saturday's election of a new president of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), from most reports, was handled efficiently with transparency, civility, and, most importantly, avoided the bitter acrimony of the September 2019 leadership race.

It was a signal credit to the candidates — Ms Lisa Hanna, the Member of Parliament from St Ann South Eastern and Mr Mark Golding, the St Andrew Southern MP — and to their supporters who largely reflected the approach by their two leaders.

Ms Hanna graciously conceded victory to Mr Golding, who immediately reached out to her, inviting her to lead a team to meet with him and his team as they pave the way forward, a clear acceptance that unity of the party is their shared priority.

We again heartily congratulate Mr Golding on his victory and wish him well as he undertakes the big task of re-fashioning the PNP in readiness for a call from the nation, whenever the circumstances dictate.

We also commend Ms Hanna for a well-fought campaign, which she lost by 296 votes. Ms Hanna's loss defied the public opinion polls which showed her ahead of Mr Golding, but which are a clear sign of her popularity at the national level. She can build on that for the future.

Sometimes elections are between political parties and leaders who are similar in policy ideas but different in personality. It could be argued that the PNP presidential election was an example of such contests.

Studies of history and economic development conclude that the critical determinant for success is leadership, in particular political leadership. The dilemma is that quality leadership is in short supply.

Electoral democracy does not always throw up the best talent of leadership, but it provides the best system of identifying and developing political leadership, with the understanding that who emerges from elections can make a profound difference.

Political leadership must involve (1) a vision that is purposive for the good of the majority of people, (2) an ability to galvanise the majority of people to actively support that vision, and (3) the managerial capacity to lead and supervise the implementation of policy goals.

Democratic elections, we believe, are the best way to ascertain the will of the people. But it is vital that the winning party moves to reassure that all views will be taken account of in the formulation of future policy decisions. This means listening to people who did not vote for those elected.

We wish to note the re-election of Dr Ralph Gonsalves who was, last Friday, given a fifth consecutive term as prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines after over 20 years in leadership.

Dr Gonsalves campaigned on the platform of proven leadership, pointing to a track record which includes construction of an international airport and St Vincent being the smallest country ever elected to the United Nations Security Council. We salute his achievements and his service.

We are also delighted to note that in the majority of recent elections, in Jamaica and elsewhere, more women are entering the portals of leadership. This undoubtedly bodes well for the future.


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