Opinion: Election campaign rules a travesty – DP Aplauds them, however disobeys them as well

POSTED: 08/3/14 10:03 PM

On Thursday, the Democratic Party applauded the campaign rules Justice Minister Dennis Richardson has put in place. On Friday, the party erected a huge campaign billboard at the Belvedere roundabout smack in front of Roy Marlin’s Delta Petroleum gas station.

Is this a matter of an overenthusiastic A-Team that is unaware of the rules? Is the Democratic Party playing a game with the rules and with the electorate?

Fact is that DP-faction leader Roy Marlin was charged with the party’s input to the minister for the campaign rules. Fact is also that Marlin said on Thursday that the DP applauds the minister’s campaign rules. A third fact has now come into being: the party that said it applauds the campaign rules has now violated them as well.

In the meantime, Frans Richardson’s US party has answered the call to abide by the rules. It moved the campaign poster of Anna Richardson that stood at the Firgos roundabout next to the billboard of Vromi-Minister and UP-candidate Maurice Lake, at least ten meters away from the roundabout. Atta girl.

The UP is however sticking to its guns. It has not moved a single campaign billboard since Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte announced that there was an agreement to move the material from roundabouts. UP-leader Heyliger has thrown in infringement on the freedom of speech as an argument against the rules and he has questioned the legality of the minister’s decision.

Blatantly ignoring an order from the Justice Ministry is obviously not the way to go in a constitutional state. The UP had three options. It could have followed the rules – but it did not. It could have ignored the rules – which it did, expecting no consequences. And it could have taken the minister in summary proceedings to court to challenge the campaign rules – which the party did not do.

The court would have been the proper route to follow and it is a mystery why the UP did not do that. Instead, the party made its own rules, declared the minister’s permit conditions not legal and basically spit in the face of democracy.

Maybe that is the reason why the DP finally caved in and decided to violate the rules as well – less than 24 hours after its faction leader told the media that he applauded those same rules.

While all this is rather colorful melee, it does not do the election campaign any good. Instead of debating the issues, the focus is on a nonsensical issue that nevertheless shows what politicians are made of.

The law of the land, that’s for ordinary citizens. The law of politics, that is another matter altogether and woe the minister who dares to step on the toes of politicians who have their own plans in mind.

The DP seemed to be heading in the right direction – what with its allegiance to the open government partnership and its call for integrity and transparency. But the billboard blooper has once more revealed the party’s true nature. If others don’t play by the rules, why would the DP do that?

This reasoning is seriously flawed. If your neighbor jumps from his window at the seventh floor, are you going to do the same? If a guy with a mask and a machinegun robs a bank are you going to do the same? If a colleague steals from the company, is it then okay for others to follow suit?

Ethics have nothing to do with others. Ethics are the core of individuals and organizations, they are defining elements.

When raw power is at stake – and this is the case here, of course – ethics quickly go out the window. That is not very nice, but voters ought to acknowledge that this is simply the way it is.  On Thursday, people might have applauded the fact that the DP applauds the campaign rules, but that has now turned out to be just another travesty.

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Opinion: Election campaign rules a travesty - DP Aplauds them, however disobeys them as well by

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