The winner takes it all
The loser standing small
The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall.
The above title and select lines of two verses are from a song made popular in the 1970’s by the pop group Abba. It has nothing to do with politics, but can be applied to the Westminster political system in which the winner takes all of the spoils and the loser walks away empty-handed.
It is this feature of Westminster government which, when in opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) promised to upturn. Four years have passed since the APNU+AFC Coalition promised a new system of governance. APNU went further than the AFC. It said that it would involve the PPPC in the government. It called on the PPPC to embrace inclusive governance and abandon the winner takes all attitude.
The then beleaguered PPPC administration said that APNU was being hypocritical, because of its inflexible stance in the National Assembly in which, with the AFC, it held a one-seat majority. It pointed to the situation in which APNU consorted with the AFC to grab both the position of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, when past tradition under the Westminster system, had seen the government side and the opposition share these spoils.
In the run-up to the 2011 elections, APNU said that if it won political office, it would move towards this shared governance, and that the People’s Progressive Party would be part of any power sharing government. APNU made it clear that any government it formed would include the PPP. This was also APNU’s position when it joined in a coalition with the AFC to contest the 2015 general and regional elections.
The PPPC has never been genuinely interested in shared governance. The PPPC has bailed out of any meaningful commitment to share power, by insisting that political trust was necessary before such a system could work. The PPPC, whenever confronted with its failure to move towards greater shared governance, has always sought refuge in the need for trust.
Recognising the PPPC’s indifference to shared governance, APNU made it clear, as the 2011 and 2015 elections approached, that the only way that shared governance could be achieved was if APNU won the elections. The winning of political power was the only means through which a system of shared governance would be achieved.
Yet despite its advocacy of a system of shared governance, APNU in its pact with the AFC did not spell out the need to make accommodation for PPPC involvement in the government, but it did not abandon also, its intention to do so. There was no mention in the Cummingsburg Accord that any government that emerged from the APNU+AFC Coalition would pursue the ideal of shared governance involving the PPPC.
The AFC has never been interested in shared governance. The AFC has always been interested in power, political power. It is so keen on political power that there is an internal squabble about who should become the next Prime Ministerial candidate, even though there is no guarantee that the AFC will be assured of the Prime Ministerial slot as part of the negotiations for a coalition with APNU for the next elections.
In the run-up to the 2015 elections, APNU began to change its tune. It began to speak about a wider system of inclusive governance. Under this system, it included offering public positions, including that of the Speaker of the National Assembly, being handed out to persons in civil society.
This promise to share out of positions is what APNU and the AFC proposed as a system of inclusive democracy. Instead of shared governance involving the PPPC, there was a new proposal for inclusive governance.
But the APNU+AFC Coalition could not even stick to its word to have a system of inclusive governance. It breached its own promise of a half-baked system of inclusive governance. The so-called involvement of civil society persons in public offices has hardly materialised. Instead, there has been a system of grabbing the spoils and sharing them out mainly between the supporters of the AFC and APNU. Civil society has been left out in the cold.
Four years after it came to power, the APNU+AFC Coalition has left its mark in terms of shared and inclusive governance. It has totally discredited those concepts. The winner continues to take it all.
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