KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 1, (CMC) – Former prime minister, Bruce Golding, says, Andrew Holness should be free to form his own cabinet, and dismissed speculation that the one-seat majority for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) could spell disaster for the incoming administration.
Golding, speaking at the Jamaica Observer newspaper Monday Exchange, said, the 32-31 result of the general election, held last Thursday, should not be used as a mechanism to hold the 43-year-old Holness to ransom.
“With a tight majority of one, it would be a perfect situation if, after he has put together his Cabinet, everybody is happy. But human nature doesn’t function that way,” Golding said, noting, that immediately after the February 25 poll, he sent Holness a message in which he advised him that “compromises very often have to be accommodated in the workings of politics”.
But he said, he also urged Holness, who had replaced him as prime minister in 2011, not to let anybody hold a gun to his head in the decisions he will have to make.
“I may not be happy if I am not made minister of X or minister of Y, but if I am a member of the team; if I am a member of the parliament, my duty is not only to the party but to the country, to support the Government at a time when the Government needs [the] full hundred support of its members,” he said.
“Therefore, I hope that people will give him the space that he needs and allow him to exercise his discretion as he sees fit,” Golding told the Observer newspaper editors and reporters on Monday.
Golding, who said he played a role in getting JLP candidates to campaign in at least 10 constituencies, said, that he had also indicated to Holness his willingness to assist.
He said, he was due to meet with Holness on Monday night and would inform him “if there is an area where he feels my assistance can be of help to him, then he will raise it.
“If it is something he already has under control, he won’t waste his own time and waste mine,” he said, adding, that Holness’ wife, Juliet Holness, should be considered for a cabinet position like every other JLP successful candidate.
“I don’t think that she should be put in the cabinet because she’s his wife, but at the same time, I don’t believe she should be left out of the cabinet because she’s his wife. It’s a judgement call that he must make, but he must make that, based on the criteria which guides him,” Golding said.
Golding also said, that Holness could run the country effectively with a one seat majority, even as he acknowledged that “it is going to be challenging to administer a government with a one-seat majority.
“It is not a constitutional crisis and there is no reason why a government cannot function with a one-seat majority,” he said, citing some examples within the Caribbean.
“We had a situation in Trinidad in 2001 when they ended up with an 18 – 18 split. The president at that time had to decide which of the two he was going to choose, and he chose the one that was there before, and that government continued for about 10 months before they called an election,”
He also made reference to Grenada’s eight to seven split in the 2003 general election and the fact that the government remained in office for five years before going back to the polls.
“Their realities may be different from ours, but constitutionally it can be done. Where the problems will come is not so much in the functioning of government, because when matters come to Parliament for a decision it doesn’t matter whether the vote in Parliament is taken by a majority of 36 to 24 or 31 to 30.
“You will still have the majority in the Senate that will give you the constitutional support that you need,” he said, noting, that the delicate balance will come in maintaining strict discipline, particularly on occasions when laws must be passed.
“It is going to require extraordinary discipline within the majority party. The government is safe with a one-seat majority, provided nobody looks across the aisle and decides to go and sit on the other side. If somebody did that, the government is in trouble,” he added.