Let’s quote from the KN editorial of Wednesday, Dec 14; “…his suggestion (Mr. David Granger) that there must be a tripartite committee established to draft the budget goes beyond the US model.” In politics there is the concept that the Germans give us – realpolitik. This type of hard politics is practised throughout the world. I have never seen a definition of realpolitik that has the inclusion of common sense but in the case of the just concluded general elections in Guyana, we should start to include common sense in the explanation of what realpolitik stands for.
The first thing to note is that though the US budget is never formally structured to include any other party except the one in power, it must be remembered at all times that you cannot compare Guyana to the US because the former has proportional representation while the US has the plurality system. It is because of the plurality system that the US budget is a pain-taking process to shape.
In the US, senators and House members can vote against their own party President because they have sectional interest to protect. Obama’s historic Health Care Bill was passed with some legislators of his own party voting against and some the opposition members voting in favour.
When an American President’s party does not command a majority in both Houses, then Heaven has to help him. You will not have a bipartite committee to plan the Budget but the majority party in both the House and the Senate shamelessly and vigorously demand bi-partisanship in deciding the final outcome of the budget.
This is what Granger had in mind when he spoke about a tripartite entity to determine the 2011 budget. If you don’t like that term, then I am sure Granger will modify it and call it an inclusionary committee. It means the same thing. It goes like this – “we control the Parliament, we have to pass your budget, we want to see more money put into the old age pension scheme; you can’t do that, then we are not passing your budget.”
For this reason I say that realpolitik also involves commonsense. Here is what the editorial went on to say about Mr. Granger’s tripartite suggestion; “It would appear that this suggestion would usurp the initiative of the Executive to present its vision to the country.” But the electorate didn’t give the Executive the space it needed to present that vision without modification or curtailment. The electorate divided its choices. It made the PPP into the Executive and it gave the combined opposition the control of Parliament. What you have then is an arena for serious dialogue in realpolitik.
There is a problem with the term, “vision.” Doesn’t the opposition have a vision too? Surely, the answer has to be yes. It had to have a vision else people would not have voted for it. It is not safe to conclude that after the results were known and the voters for the opposition saw that it has control of Parliament, it would want the opposition to use its parliamentary majority to put forward its vision?
Why a minority presidency must be allowed by the Parliament dominated by the opposition to present its vision to the nation and the opposition concedes that since it is the Executive that takes charge of compiling the budget then Executive must be allowed to do so?
Of course the opposition can play the nice guy, throw realpolitik out of the window and let the Executive present its vision and its budget. But in doing so they would have thrown themselves through the window too thereby killing themselves. In politics there is a name for it – political suicide.
Come the next election, the opposition would then hardly get a vote and the ruling party may get a hundred percent. The reasoning is simple – “I voted for you, my vote gave you some power, you used that power to help the ruling party then why don’t I vote for that party this time instead of you?”
One would like to ask the composer of that editorial if it is only the Executive that has a moral obligation to its voters to implement what it promised on the campaign. Shouldn’t the voters of the opposition expect some obligation too? What is even more intriguing is that it has the power to deliver some promises because it controls the Parliament.
Do you know in almost all coalition governments, the smaller partner gets power far exceeding what its electoral returns entitles it to? It’s call realpolitik.
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