UWP leader, Ron Green

By E. Magloire

In a democracy the people in a free and fair election choose their government. On December 18, 2009, Dominicans went to the polls and duly re-elected the Labour Party.

By their votes, the majority of Dominicans affirmed their confidence in Labour’s leadership. This electoral victory by Labour, gave the party a mandate to continue with its policies whether the minority agrees with them or not.  That is what happens in an election, someone wins and someone loses.

Victory in an election comes with a great responsibility to the victors.  The government in charge, though elected by the majority of the people, still has a solemn responsibility to all the people.  In any democracy, it is incumbent on those in power to ensure that the voices of the few are heard loud and clear and are not drowned out by the voices of the many. A viable opposition is needed to remind those in charge of that solemn responsibility. The opposition is there to remind them that there are equally patriotic citizens with differing opinions on how to best advance the interest of the country who are required to be heard.

Any viable democracy is made up of citizens with differing views. That is the essence of a true democracy, the ability of citizens to engage freely in discussion without fear of retribution by the authorities. For any country to advance, a hybrid of progressive and conservative thought must be given credence and combined to achieve what is in the best interest of the country. After all, no one side has a monopoly on the solutions to all challenges.

The opposition is the representative of the minority.  It is there to serve as the conscience of those in power and remind them of their obligation to all the people.  As such, the opposition must be perceived as acting in good faith. The opposition in its capacity as representatives of the minority should not just oppose those in power just to be contrary. A viable opposition must have insightful ideas on how to achieve the common objective of advancing the national interest and engage in debate on how to proceed. The two sides may not always agree on how to advance the country’s interest, however, when the opposition is viewed as being constructive, its motives can never be questioned.

Most of those who assent to public office do so because of an altruistic need to serve an interest bigger than themselves.  They are patriotic citizens who love their country and feel that they can contribute positively to its development. There is no solitary voice speaking for all the people in a democracy, rather, there are copious numbers of voices engaging in vigorous respectful discussion.

The opposition is an indispensable part of that discussion. Therefore, if the opposition is derelict in its obligation as representatives of the voices of the minority, those in power are left to believe that maybe they do have a monopoly on ideas of what is best for everyone.

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