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Dr Darius Lecointe
Dr Darius Lecointe

Dominicans have participated in fifteen elections since the successful struggle for universal adult suffrage. The first three of these elections were conducted without political parties. Now for the first time Dominicans have seemingly embarked on an insidious campaign to reverse all the gains of adult suffrage. Here's how.

Anyone who has studied the history of voting privileges in Dominica knows that before 1951 only the landed gentry could vote. So much emphasis has been placed on the right to vote that we forget that the right to vote includes by implication the right to be elected. The only people who could be elected to government were those who owned property. Now I find that people whose ancestors fought for the right for all men to vote are using that right in an attempt to reverse that privilege.

Over and over again I have heard the question being asked: What has the opposition politicians done for Dominica? The ordinary man on the street is not in a position to "do something" for Dominica. That question takes away from the ordinary man the opportunity to run for office because he lacks the means or the connections to "do something for Dominica. And politicians and parliamentarians who are driven more by self-interest that by devotion to the nation, are taking advantage of the people's lack of political sophistication to encourage them to continue asking that question and to act against their own self-interest. We do not have universal suffrage of only those who have the resources to make such contribution are the only ones qualified to run for political office.

The battle against adult suffrage is also being waged on another front, in the guise of an effort to protect the right to vote. Adult suffrage ensures that the right to vote is free, i.e. it does not place an unnecessary resource cost on the elector. Recent discussions about bringing people from overseas back to Dominica for the purpose of voting in national elections highlights the fact that this is a privilege that is limited to those who have the resources to finance their own travel or that of others. What is being defended as a defense of the right to vote is an indirect attack on universal suffrage.

We are slowly developing a system in which both prongs of the system of suffrage will be controlled by the moneyed interests. This is not what our ancestors fought for.

Under this new dispensation Government by the people will be a sham because it will not be of the people. It certainly will not be Government for the people. If we are content to contest elections with an electorate that is so woefully politically naive we must be prepared to be governed in our elder years by the same shameful level of political consciousness. We may have to look on hopelessly while they are manipulated by others for foreign interests. For the sake of our beloved republic we must not allow that to happen. Defense of Universal Suffrage

By Dr. Darius Lecointe