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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 27 - Friday August 30, 2002
To Win you dance with the enemy
By Dr Emanuel Finn

The Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) is locked in a grim image struggle today. Party leaders are desperately trying to bring the DFP back to its prominence of the 1980s and early 90s.

The public statements that are made by party leaders such as MP Baron and others, suggests that they are not contended with the party's current role of minority partner in the coalition government.

With Mr. Sabroache and Mr. Savarin heading important and visible ministries and Mr. Baron dealing with the controversial issues head on, it would seem that the once powerful DFP is not totally out of the game and in time may rise again.

The question is when and how soon? These virtues are achieved in politics, as long as a party or an individual stays around pushing counter issues and raising controversial questions about government's behaviors and policies.

But the larger question is how can the DFP members criticize government publicly when they are part of it? Isn't this a conflict of interest? Well, may be not. In politics anything goes and things of this nature are standard practices.

Politics is not for the faint of heart or for those with 'thin skins' who don't want to be criticized, ridiculed and on very few occasions few times, genuinely praised.

In order to keep the DFP supporters and members on board, the three mentioned gentlemen may have to distance themselves from PM Charles and the Dominica Labour Party (DLP). This may be more difficult that it seems.

Some political observers content that with DFP being part of the coalition, the very survival of the party is tied to the survival and success of the coalition.

Another observer pointed out that the arrangement, which the DFP made with the Labour party during the last elections to ensure the removal of the United Workers Party (UWP), amounts to a making a deal with the devil.

If the DLP led coalition government goes down, it will certainly take the Freedom party with it. For DFP members, this is not an envious position to be in regarding the future of their party.

In this small island, there is a strong prevailing view that regardless of who the parties or partners are, coalition governments are not very effective at getting things done, let alone working cohesively as a group.

This fact may reveal something disturbing about us as a people. Something we may not want to hear, know or discuss. This fact needs to debated, examine and analyze publicly.

Can we get along collectively as a people in spite of our differences? Why arent the political leaders and parties of a island with less that 100,000 people cannot get along when former colonial powers in Europe (e.g.; European Union) with centuries of fighting wars among themselves are joining together and forming unions for the betterment of their people?

Is the curse of colonialism, slavery and petty jealousies affecting us a people and small nation? This $64 million dollar question needs to be surgically examined. Indeed this writer not only looks upon this issue with pity, but also with shame.

Today in Western societies, the movement of politics is toward the center and the middle space of reconciliation. Societies, like Northern Ireland where political parties and powerful politicians find it more alluring to be on the fringes and gravitate to extreme ends instead of center, usually cause more harm than good. These societies are (and remain) in confusion and mayhem for a long time.

By the time we understand that we as a nation and people have some fundamental political flurs that will continue to hurt us all, it may just be too late. In our confusion that is mainly spread and perpetuated by self- serving politicians, their opportunistic henchmen and women, we may just be taken over by another foreign group of people. They are coming and they are already have taken over the strategic Layou River hotel and the prime real estate in that fertile valley.

Please understand that this writer is not condoning mediocrity and ineptitude in any government or opposition. This writer supports Dominica, good public policy and its hard working citizens and believes in democracy.

There are some politicians who care about our island home and its people. These noble public servants view their duties as honorable and purposeful. Unfortunately there seems to be more misinformed and misguided politicians than real public servants in Dominica today.

But an objective analysis of the two parties (DFP and DLP) shows a sense of sameness in spite of the generation of bickering and hatred that has occurred between them in order to maintain their differences and distances from each other. What becomes clearer is that for the moment, both parties are trying to accept each other's imperatives as it is tied to their future and survival.

Just about everyone thought that the coalition's divorce would have already occurred. Surprisingly, the marriage seems to be limping on despite all the problems and pressures. The formula which seems applicable in this marriage seems to be an all or none theory.

If DFP leaves the coalition, then the UWP opposition will occupy the high ground and is almost guaranteed a victory in the next elections. For the moment, the coalition is remaining true to the cause on which it was formed in the first place. Keep UWP out of power by any means necessary.

But valuable time and patience maybe running out quickly (or as some claim, may have ran out) for the Freelab coalition and DFP. Soon after the coalition government was in place, Mr. Savarin declared that his party has a good chance of winning the next election. Which party is it Mr. Savarin? Is it the Freelab coalition or the DFP?

Political observers suggest that the likelihood that the DFP will win a majority in the next election and form the next government is remote. If the DFP remains in the coalition government, will it be banishing itself to the margins and leaving the main arena to the DLP and UWP? Political analysts think that the only way for DFP to keep power is to share it.

The alternative is that DFP would probably remain on the fringes of politics in Dominica for some time if they were not part of the government. The same observers content that being minority coalition partner further weakens and prevents the DFP from rebuilding for the future. What is at steak is that this is a defining and very sensitive time for the party. If this is not handled properly, Dominica may soon be writing DFP's epitaph.

In order for the economy to survive and the country to move out of the doldrums we find ourselves in today, both Mr. Charles (Savarin) and Prime Minister (Pierre) Charles will have to work together and begin to have more of a strong common focus agenda. They will have to deliver the goods and do more than just having the namesake Charles.

It is imperative that the former Dominica Grammar School (DGS) student; PM Charles, treats his former DGS teacher, Honorable Charles (Savarin) as an equal if the coalition government means anything to the DFP.

Gestures such as Acting Prime Minister and increase ministerial responsibilities have already been bestowed on Mr. Charles (Savarin). In spite of this fact, the DFP boss Charles' leadership, and the party's role and treatment in the coalition government is sure to be strongly questioned and challenged by DFP's faithful.

The task that DFP's Charles has in dealing with his crafty political enemies within the DFP and those in Prime Minister Charles' DLP brings an important qualification to the Tourism minister. One that involves tactical and skilled maneuverings as a politician, salesman, referee, diplomat, negotiator and statesman.

In order to succeed at this daunting, and challenging task, he will have to (slow) dance with his political enemies inside and outside the DFP, the DLP and in the coalition government, the media and country. Failure for Honorable Charles to waltz properly with Prime minister Charles and all the other dynamic forces may surely result in political suicide for himself and maybe for (Dame) Charles' Dominica Freedom Party.

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