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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Letters ;New Gambia! What model of democracy?

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Dear editor,

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I take it that until we have the referendum done and over, the public debate in the constitutional review process is not closed yet.
I am not speaking from research but in my view, one of the reasons why New Gambia is replete with a plethora of political parties is that the country did not have a platform in its UN led Transition Program from Old Gambia, to stimulate structured, and extensive public discussions of public ideas on democracy, and democracy building in the intellectual class and the policy community of the Gambia This is a critical role in shaping the future direction of the country which could have been one of the functions of the Gambia National Think Tank.

This will be contested but I don’t think that the Gambia, a country of about (2) million people needs (13) political parties, unless these parties are creating such high-quality jobs in their offices that they are making a significant contribution to the GDP of the country.
From what I have seen and felt in the public space, since the advent of New Gambia, there has been and up to now, there is too much politics in the Gambia. There are too many runners on the race to State House, infact so many runners that the growing political class of the Gambia may be causing more confusion than clarity in the political space of the country.

With due recognition of the balance in the arms of government, there are of course shades of grey in-between them, but generally, (3) main models of democracy have been recognised in countries of the free-world and documented in political science theory; Participatory democracy, Pluralist democracy and Elitist democracy.
In practice participatory democracy presents a structural framework and model political system that emphasises above all else, the idea of mass participation of citizens through party formations in the exercise of power and control of the direction of the political base of a country.

Pluralist democracy on the other hand is a political model and system that emphasises the influence of civil society and similar citizen bodies in the social and economic sectors of the country in the exercise of control and direction of political power in a country.
And the elitist model of democracy refers to a country political structure which recognises and lays emphasis on the role of the intellectual community and professional and business classes in the control and direction of political power in a country.

In my view it is possible to group all of our (13) political parties into these (3) models and types. We will then have only (3) political parties and with a limited number of parties, we can reduce transaction time and transaction cost in politics and still capture all the different shades of political colours in the country for the control and direction of public power and resources.

I think this is the only way we can control the already large and still increasing number of political parties, reduce the time and amount of resources spent on political activity which can be too contentious, even acrimonious.

The Gambia needs to decondition and recondition its political culture space, redirect national energy and resources to much address widening development gap. I think that more than anything else, creating development and lifting our people out of a place of deep and wide spread poverty is the biggest agenda of our time.

Please answer the (4) questions below for yourself and share your comments if you wish, if you think that in its anticipation for a viable democratic model for the Gambia, the new constitution should not be silent over the political party structure of the country.

Question 1:
Which of the (3) political models and structural orientations that your political party presently supports for New Gambia?

Question 2:
Which other political party(s) hold a similar modular/structural orientation of politics in New Gambia as the one that your party holds?
Question 3:
Do you think the leaders of your political party should agree to merge your party with that/those other political parties?

(4) How would you like to see the issue of political parties addressed in the Constitution?

Kemo Conteh

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