Monday, 22 March 2010

A Democracy or an Elected Autocracy?

The Constitution requires elections every 4 years. Dutifully Parliament is dissolved every 4 years and elections are called. Constituents vote and a government and an opposition are elected for another 4 years. This process equals democracy ... WRONG!

Indeed there is a widespread belief that because there is a right to vote and that right is exercised regularly then we must by definition be a western style democracy. Certainly that is what those in the governing party not only would have everyone think but certainly it is what the leader of that party thinks and believes. At least he behaves as if that is how he thinks and believes.

He constantly uses his power to suppress information, for example, the Hon Fabian Picardo recently had cause to complain again. This time on the subject of suppression of information about amounts due for PAYE and Social Security. How can the Government have the gall to suppress this information. PAYE and Social Security is money that does not belong to the Government it is money that belongs to all Gibraltarians. How dare they not tell us? How dare they hide their own inefficiencies by simply hiding facts and the truth?

One safeguard to democracy is the availability of information. In all civilised western democracies there is Freedom of Information legislation: not in Gibraltar. The mantra of those elected to govern is that the power of government has to be maintained at all costs, even by the suppression of information to which the voting public has a right. The fact that suppression of information will assist the Government in power's electoral chances is not a reason to suppress information: in fact it is the antithesis of democracy.

Additionally the absolute control that the executive branch of government has on the legislature is anti-democratic. They can legislate with impunity and then apply the rule of the very law, that they have used their majority to enact, to exert executive power. Zimbabwean practices to the nth degree. This is the selfsame Government majority that is used pervasively and insidiously to suppress argument and debate both in and out of Parliament.

The administration seems no longer to understand also that it is not here to do the bidding of the Chief Minister and other Ministers. They are in post to apply and work within the law: a further mainstay of a western style democracy that we pretend to have but fail to achieve.

There is a need to have a whole raft of legislation to ensure that we really have democratic government. The 2006 constitution failed miserably to provide the necessary platform for this, purposely or not but possibly possibly to suit the ability of the UK to maintain a Military Base ... who knows? The reality is that the only the government of the day can pass this legislation but why would they?

Not having this raft of legislation to deliver true democracy helps any incumbent government cling to power, consequently, there is no incentive for any incumbent government to legislate in this way. How long will this destructive spiral go on for? For ever it seems!


  1. Fred says:

    Tyranny or oligarchy, plutocracy, or even plutarchy?

    I would go for plutarchy.

    Could it be that it's not in the plutarchy's interests to have the PAYE and Social Security figures released? Catch-22 really: we can't know, because we are not allowed to know.

    It takes the likes of Mr Alvarez of the Gib Gay Rights to give the Government a real bashing these days - the opposition might take a page from his book.

    On a separate note, could we have a go at the Pope for not calling the paedophile priests "criminals"? It's what they are, but the Pope has limited himself to calling them "sinners". I am all for forgiveness, particuarly with Good Friday so near, but I still think they should answer to a secular court. I would also want to know that the new Bishop has clean hands as regards this issue - no covering, no silence, categorical condemnation.

    The problem with saying that they are "sinners" is that that in the church's eyes they are "equal" in their wrong doing to all us relatively harmless adulterers, fornicators, liars, condom users, homosexuals, drunkards, etc. Needless to say homosexuals are not sinners, and the rest of these things may be pecadillos, and then because they hurt others or the self. But it's quite different to sexually abusing a child.

    A statement from the Government may also be nice, but I forget: thyey are only into gay-bashing not priest-bashing.

  2. LLanito World 10 out of 10.

    The whole thing sucks. GSD Political Duplicity and Opportunism. The end game is very near.

  3. Plato says:

    Unfortunately the only way Gibraltarians are going to have access to information is storming No.6 'a la Bastille'. Anything else will just not succeed. Now I understand why Anarchy exists! Nonetheless Democracy beats anarchism! The battle must be fought in the streets but not with violence etc but with patriotism, spirit, plain talking and a committment to honour promises. After all, we do have children who deserve to inherit a better Gibraltar in every respect.

  4. The greatest trick democracy ever pulled, was convincing the world it existed.