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Tina Renier | PNP renewal postponed or non-existent?

Published:Tuesday | September 20, 2016 | 9:00 AMTina Renier

As a result of the People's National Party's shocking defeat at the 2016 polls, there has been a crescendo of calls for renewal in the party's approach to governance, as well as the re-evaluation of its political identity in order to reconnect with the struggles of every Jamaican, especially the masses.

Among the disillusioned masses lies an exuberant spirit of cynicism and scepticism about the future of our country's development and the common perception that politics has undermined the bright potential and direction of Jamaica.

While apathetic youth on social media and 'pon di corna' describe politics as crap in deep fury and frustration, the PNP is still experiencing vicious, internal power struggles in an effort to determine the definition and direction of renewal, and whether renewal is needed at this crucial point in its political history.

One must highlight the most recent developments in the party's internal vice-presidential elections and the outcomes. One cannot negate the fact that the delegates have spoken through free and fair means by democratically electing their four favoured vice-presidential candidates, but the loss of young and dynamic Lisa Hanna symbolises the fact that there are consequences to be borne when new blood challenges the old political order.

The consequence of challenging traditions and the old political order in the example of Lisa Hanna is an electoral loss in the bid for second-tier leadership in the party.

Second, Hanna's loss is an enormous disappointment for youth involvement in shaping and advancing Jamaica's political landscape through a bold, solutions-oriented approach rather than void political rhetoric.

A 2016 research done by Respect Jamaica, in collaboration with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), asserts this position of youth disempowerment by illustrating that 80 per cent of youth believe that politics (government) is not doing enough to empower and engage their cohort.

 

feeling of exclusion

 

This, therefore, means that young people in Jamaica feel excluded from the processes of governance and decision-making and that their views are not taken seriously into account when helping to chart Jamaica's destiny. It can also be interpreted that there is limited room for creative, innovative and workable ideas and vibrant personalities that could help to develop stronger public-policy frameworks that will eventually achieve sustainable development.

This not only helps to increase frustration and distrust of youth towards the issues of politics versus governance, but it also reveals that change and renewal are not priority issues in the agenda of Jamaica's politics. Jamaica's political party system has been governed by the general principle, 'doers don't survive and survivors don't do'.

This simply means that in order to ascend to higher positions of power, a leader has to align himself/herself with the interests of the elites of the party and follow the unwritten status quo, but if one rebels, there are serious consequences to be faced such as an electoral loss or sidelining, in the case of another vocal and promising young politician, Damion Crawford.

Unwillingness to learn that change is inevitable, and failure to be open to new ideas and unlock the numerous possibilities of a new era can lead the party in Opposition to commit further political suicide. We must then decide, is renewal postponed or non-existent in the PNP?

- Tina Renier is a member of the Policy and Advocacy Committee of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.