Former Saint Lucia Prime Minister, Stephenson King, has asserted that motions of no confidence constitute a wake up call for governments.
King spoke against the backdrop of the shock vote in Guyana by Charrandas Persaud in support of a no confidence vote against the coalition administration of which he was part.
“Such situations are always wake up calls because what it says is that leaders cannot believe that they can lead in a kind of way, what we call a sort of totalitarian manner,” the former Saint Lucia leader told St Lucia Times.
“You cannot lead by just simply taking a course without consultation – without discussion or even just merely taking decisions and not at least considering the views of the general public,” King explained.
“So it is always a wake up call for all governments when motions of no confidence are posed and the reasons for presenting the motion of no confidence,” he said in an interview with St Lucia Times.
According to King, it is the the right and the duty of every MP at any given time, whether in government or opposition, to stand his or her ground based on conscience.
He expressed the view that in the case of Guyana, Charrandas Persaud, after much consideration, felt he could no longer continue to support the government because it was against his conscience.
The Castries North MP said:
“That is something we all at some stage will be called upon to do because the democracies that we are involved in work on what we call – particularly the executive, the cabinet, works on what you call collective responsibility; so even if in cabinet you may have the dissenting voice on any issue and you don’t support a particular issue.”
“Once that decision is taken by cabinet you are part of cabinet and so it is what you call ‘ collective responsibility’. You really and truly should not, on principle, go out and denounce the decision taken,” King told St Lucia Times.
“The moment you denounce the decision taken then it means that you have prepared yourself to step out and I think the gentleman (Charrandas Persaud) certainly, after much thought, much consideration and his conscience, decided that he could no longer continue to give support to his government and therefore supported the motion of no confidence and it is his right.”
In regard to the announcement by the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) of plans to have a no confidence motion in parliament against Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, King noted that one would have to argue on the merits and demerits of what is presented and how the motion affects the ability of the government to deliver on its promises.
“I believe that this is one which, unlike Guyana, may not necessarily mean that a successful passage of a vote of no confidence against the prime minister means the fall of the government because you have not encapsulated the entire government into the process. So it is slightly different; but it is one which again allows MPs to speak out and air their views and stand out where necessary,” the former PM declared.
King observed that in Guyana, there was a one seat majority in the national assembly which made the successful no confidence vote ‘easy to happen’.
“One man stands his ground and votes in favour of the no confidence motion and brings down the government,” he stated.
But King noted that in many other countries the governments normally have a clear majority and not a one seat advantage.
“In the case Barbados one anticipates that there may never be a motion of no confidence or even in Grenada. But again I say the relevance of motion is to indicate the independence of MPs, even if MPs contest an election under one symbol, that MP is a single entity and can at any time stand his ground of independence,” the former PM asserted.