REPORT #35 Jan 1999
THE BELIZE SENATE AND IT'S FUNCTION- POLITICAL REFORM


Produced by the Belize Development Trust
It is interesting to note some differences between the Senate of the Federal Government of the USA and the Senate of Belize for students of the political re-structuring scene in Belize.

The Senate in Belize is an appointed body and is essentially, a depository of political patronage to persons who aided the winning political party in the British parliamentary system. It gives sycophants and supporters, a free salary with no duties at the expense of the Belizean tax payer. In theory legislation is sent to them to critique, but they have no power to change it, and indeed once it is sent back to the political party controlling the legislature, or parliament, the charade of having a Senate is done. The legislature than rubber stamps their party ideas. Or those of the clique controlling the cabinet and treasury largesse used to control party members who may have other ideas and objections.

The legislature in Belize is also a 5 year body.

In the USA Senators are elected. They are elected by the people for six year terms. Elected representatives in their system only serve for two years, before having to be re-elected again. This term limit discrepancy gives the Senate a more deliberate time frame to consider things as they are not worrying about re-election on issues and legislation. Another difference, in order to pass a Senate vote, a two thirds majority must pass on it. Unlike the elected representatives in the USA, who can pass things because of party majority.

In considering the political patronage aspects of the dysfunctional Senate in Belize, some questions and improvements come to mind for improved democracy.

Should Senators be elected? Should Senators serve the five year term? If so, then should elected representatives only be elected for two year terms like in the USA? Pyschological studies abound on the effects of elected representative burnout in the political realm. Nearly all of which agree, that one year to 18 months is the only useful period of an elected representative before lethargy and political burnout occur. These studies encompass many different fields of elections, not just government.

Should the Senate in Belize be a check and balance to the party controlled legislature? How to do this, if you think so? Should the elected representatives be elected every year in one third of the total numbers, like in Cooperative Management in Belize, to achieve a more smooth steady development curve, with reduction of one sided viewpoint cliques in power? In a staggered term of three years, for elected representatives to the legislature? One third running every year.

Should we do this and pay the present elected representatives their five years of salaries, to make them more amenable to bringing improved democracy to Belize for the better future of the nation? Then have them do a lottery pick in 1999 with one third running for office in October 1999 again? Next year in 2000, should we then hold elections for Senators for five year terms? Two for each district? Should we give the Senate power over legislation passed by the parliament in Belize? To veto as a check and balance?

Should Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister stand for election seperately outside of party lines? Independently elected by the people for two years, just like the State Government of Florida and a few other states. This gives each cabinet minister and Prime Minister only one vote at cabinet meetings and since they may be of different political party affiliations and persuasions relies more on logic and debate for policy making. Consensus must then be made.

Checks and balances are what contribute to successful democracy successes in the world. Study these differences and compare.

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