FORMER PRIME minister, Edward Seaga, is urging the new People's National Party (PNP) government to handle with care the "awesome power" given it in the House of Representatives through the Decemeber 29 general election.
Seaga, whose administration controlled all 60 seats in the Lower House between 1983 and 1989, cautioned that the new government should resist the temptation to force through legislation with its two-thirds majority. The PNP boycotted the 1983 snap election.
"One of the things that she has to recognise is that she has awesome power because of the two-thirds majority in Parliament that is counterbalanced by the position in the Senate," Seaga told The Sunday Gleaner.
Suggesting a more inclusive approach in the House, Seaga advised that "any such attempt to use that two-thirds vote should be done very wisely and not be used because it is two-thirds, because if it wasn't there, the two-thirds could have been sought by both the Government and the Opposition teaming together ... ."
Seaga stressed that the two-thirds strength should not be used to "ram a decision through".
The former prime minister pointed out that the country has been inching towards a more harmonious type of government with participation from both sides, rather than the strictly adversarial type which prevailed over the past decade.
"In the '90s, especially, and in this period of 2000, there have been concessions made to induce the Opposition to become involved on a participatory basis, and that should be continued," Seaga said.
"The more the Opposition is involved on a participatory basis, the less grounds there are for adversarial positions to be taken because you are joint partners in whatever the decisions are."
In terms of restarting the Partnership for Progress talks, Seaga said it was not his call to suggest that the resurrection of these talks be priority number one.
"I would say that it is one of the important things that has to be done, but whether it is a priority or not at this particular stage is left to her as prime minister to determine."
The Partnership for Progress involves roundtable discussions among key stakeholders including Government, Opposition, trade unions, and the private sector to create a social partnership.
As Simpson Miller takes the reins of government for the second time in five years, Seaga said the greatest challenge for her administration would be the creation of employment.
Job creation has featured prominently, if not as the number-one issue, highlighted by Jamaicans in a number of opinion polls conducted in the run-up to the December 29 general election.
The PNP has trumpeted its Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme, which, it says, will provide jobs in the short run.