Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Letter of the day: Disadvantages of a slim majority

Published:Saturday | March 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The Jamaica Labour Party won the recent general election by a very slim majority, thus placing the party in a very delicate position. If the party slips, it slides.

It is more promising politically to win by a landslide victory than by a small margin. When one has a wide majority, one can pass or amend laws rather quickly and accomplish much for one's party.

This is not the case when one party is limited by a small margin. Small margins limit the party to constraints by the Constitution, as well as conventions.

This present Government is in such a dilemma. It cannot do what it would like to do without the consent of the Opposition. Andrew Holness cannot pass the term limit without the Opposition consenting, nor can it do a thing about the buggery law or any entrenched law without the Opposition's consent. Apart from entrenched clauses, the Opposition can raise and block other positions that might be favourable to the governing party.

With a small majority, it will be incumbent on all members of the governing party to be present in the House at all times in order that bills can be debated and passed - if they can.



There is more work for members of the governing party. They have to pay more attention to their constituents than before, lest they lose favour. This becomes even more burdensome if that member has a ministerial portfolio.

Another disadvantage of governing with a minority is that all eyes are on your performance. Those who will watch your performance carefully are not only the Opposition, but the populace, and especially those who did not vote in your favour, not to mention the international community and the international financial lenders.

It is a tight spot to be in when you are on the margins. The future is bleak, but with hard work and some luck, it can turn in Mr Holness' favour.