Opinion: Politicians will have to get used to intensified scrutiny

POSTED: 06/24/14 1:40 PM

The Democratic Party demands that candidates for this year’s elections sign a pledge. That is a document containing agreements between the party and the candidates. While party leader Sarah Wescot-Williams did not go into detail about the content of this pledge, she confirmed that a promise not to leave the faction after the elections and go independent – aka “doing a Laville, an Illidge or a Frans Richardson” – is part of this agreement.

Asked up to what point such an agreement is legally binding, we understood that the pledge is not airtight. Candidates could therefore still jump ship if they felt like it, which makes it look like there is no difference with the old situation. That would be a misunderstanding.

Those who sign up as a candidate for the elections are expecting a huge return on investment for their efforts. There is a fat salary and there are perks private sector employees do not even dare dream about. Under those conditions, candidates may not make too big of a deal of signing such a pledge.

That this is no guarantee for future behavior is something everybody understands. But the candidate who manages to capture a coveted seat in Parliament and still decides to jump ship will go down in history as a liar, or at least as someone whose word is not worth the paper it is written on.

Is this progress? We think it is, because we still want to believe that there are indeed candidates who will stick to their word. A promise made is a promise kept.

That there are others in the political arena – like those with whom DP-candidate Emil Lee does not wish to be associated– who will simply go in the direction the wind blows (never mind pledges or promises) is all in the game.

However, the DP-pledge will set a standard that others still might follow. Whether they do this or not, politicians will have to get used to the idea of intensified scrutiny. Those who fail to live up to standards of integrity and accountability, those who will make promises as lightly as they break them, will become the laughing stock of the Friendly Island.

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