Democracy has many definitions describing the same principle of government being decided majorly by the citizens. According to Sorensen (2010), democracy is the "meaningful and extensive competition among individuals and groups (especially parties) for all portions of government power, at regular intervals and excluding the use of force." Political parties have an influential role to play in all kinds of democracies.
The Caribbean region holds the reputation for being the most democratic region in the developing world (Sutton, 1999); with liberal democracy the most prevalent form. Political parties in the Caribbean are faced with a tricky situation where they have to maintain ties with former colonial countries, establish sovereignty rule, handle socio-economic and political problems, mobilize resources and people and try to fit into the twenty-first-century liberalism movement.
Democracy in the Caribbean
The Caribbean has a mixed, diverse political atmosphere. There are "territories," islands which are part of parent countries notably Britain (Bermuda, Cayman Islands, etc.), the United States (Puerto Rico), The Netherlands (Dutch Caribbean) and France (French Antilles). They are called territories because they do not have political sovereignty (Sparrow, 2017), but they cannot be called colonies. These territories while being geographically in the Caribbean, are nonetheless somehow part of the parent democracies mentioned above. Apart from Puerto Rico and Cuba, the rest of the countries in the Caribbean are sovereignties. The countries in the Caribbean are either Common-wealth countries (former colonies of Britain) and English speaking or Spanish speaking countries.
Democracy Promotion by Political Parties
There are three distinct forms of democracy in the Caribbean by the organization of political parties. There are multi-parties, there are two dominant parties, and then there is a mix of the two. Where there are two dominant parties, there are two opposing ideologies (conservatism and liberalism). Small parties favor special interest groups such as gay rights. There are political parties influenced by overseas countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States (Corbett and Veenendaal, 2016); which subsequently promote international "democratic interests." One such nation is Grenada which works like Britain in that the head of government is a Prime Minister.
Politics and Political Parties in Grenada Promoting Democracy
Grenada has many political parties the main ones are New National Party and Grenada United Labour Party. The Prime Minister of Grenada is from the New National Party which is conservative like the Republican Party in the United States. According to Stapenhurst, Staddon, Drama, and Imbeau (2018), the most popular political parties in Grenada are, ideologically, versions of the UK's Conservative Party and Labour Party. They promote the same philosophies, beliefs, and methods of governance. In a manner, these parties help keep British interests alive in the Caribbean. More importantly, since they have a global impact, they help bridge international relations in commerce, aid programs, partnerships, collaborations and other essential forms of global affairs.
The Puerto Rican Political Parties and Democracy Situation
Puerto Rico presents a unique multi-party scenario. The top political post is Governor who is elected every four years. The current ruling party is the Popular Democratic Party (PND) which is pro-commonwealth (Marotta, 2018). There are other smaller parties. The opposition party is the New Progressive Party, which favors being a state of the United States. Puerto Ricans living in the United States can vote in the US presidential elections, but those living in Puerto Rico cannot vote. Hence, Puerto Rico represents a sophisticated form of democracy with both US interests and pro-commonwealth interests.
Among the many political parties in Puerto Rico, there are some who push to join the United States to become the fifty-first state. Even the PND, which has traditionally favored being Commonwealth is now clamoring to become part of the United States. As recently as September 2018, the PND governor Ricardo Rossello wrote to President Trump asking for the abolishment of "territorial-colonialism" (Campbell, 2018). The case of Puerto Rico is quite a unique one.
Liberal democracy and pluralistic forms of government are the most common forms in which political parties organize themselves in the Caribbean. As such, the tens and hundreds of political parties in the Commonwealth countries advocate majorly for progressive reforms (Thomas, 2016). Most of them advocate for poverty eradication and dealing with corruption, especially opposition parties. Some are concerned about neo-colonization such as in Puerto above Rico. Others such as Haiti and Jamaica have two-party democracies based on ideologies.
Democracy is necessary to maintain harmony. Other forms of liberal democracy represented by minority parties include feminist agendas, environmental conservation, political activism, recognition of minority sexual groups and so on. Democracy in the Caribbean was an imposition of countries such as the United Kingdom and the USA. However, these countries are trying to break away from this neo-colonialism.
Campbell, A. F. (2018, September 24). Puerto Rico's push for statehood explained. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from VOX: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/11/15782544/puerto-rico-pushes-for-statehood-explained
Corbett, J., & Veenendaal, W. (2016). Westminster in small states: comparing the Caribbean and Pacific experience. Contemporary Politics, 22(4), 432-449.
Marotta, S. T. (2018). Puerto Rico's Unique Relationship to the United States An Overview of the Historical Relationship, the Island's Evolving Political System and Immigration to the Mainland.
Sorensen, G. (2010). Democracy and democratization. In Handbook of politics (pp. 441-458). Springer, New York, NY.
Sparrow, B. (2017). A Territorial State: Geographic Expansion, the US Territories, and an "Introduction to American Politics." PS: Political Science & Politics, 50(2), 492-496.
Stapenhurst, F., Staddon, A., Draman, R., & Imbeau, L. (2018). Parliamentary oversight and corruption in the Caribbean: comparing Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada. Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 1-30.
Sutton, P. (1999). Democracy in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Democratization, 6(1), 67-86.
Thomas, C. Y. (2016). A state of disarray: public policy in the Caribbean. Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies, 41(2/3), 181-216.
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