Governance Issues: Towards a CARICOM Parliament

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Ann Marie Bissessar


This paper re-examines the issue of the establishment of a common political institution in the Commonwealth Caribbean. It recognizes that while a unitary form of governance may be necessary due to converging global forces, the implementation of this type of institutional arrangement will be constrained by factors such as the economic, social and political environments of the different countries. Yet, the article argues, the European Union and the Parliament that was subsequently established in 1979 suffered these limitations as well. In the case of these countries, however, it could be argued that the similarities were more powerful than the differences. Analysts, for example, have argued that the countries that make up the European Parliament are not separated by sea as occurs in the case of the islands in the Caribbean. Thus, the proximity of these countries allows for closer ties. However, a major argument that has been advanced to explain why the Caribbean will have difficulty in establishing a common Parliament has to do with leadership. Because of their history as slave and indentured societies, it has been suggested that the leaders in the Caribbean were reluctant to transfer authority and cede their sovereign status. While these factors are no doubt valid, this paper argues that perhaps the major problem in the Caribbean may be the absence of a well- thought out federal political arrangement and the inability of the various countries to articulate clearly defined procedures and practices.

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