Early grumblings in a government’s first term

| May 5, 2019

Senior columnist Dixon Igwe

Smart politicians pay heed to early disenchantment from voters. Why: because to be forewarned is to be forearmed

Voter grumbling and voter discontentment at specific matters usually marks the beginning of political downturn for governments.

Public disgruntlement can be diverted. But it is extremely difficult to change a negative narrative once it begins.

When the grumbling starts early in the governing process, it does damage to the government’s political and economic agenda. 

Now history has shown that once a narrative begins early in a government’s term it is difficult to change that trajectory. Why? Because voters are not very forgiving when they feel they are not being sold the truth on matters concerning their welfare and governance.

If voters voted for accountable, transparent, and honest governance, then that is what they expect from day one. If on day one any of these three factors is breached, then there is a savaging of what one terms the ‘’trust factor.’’

When trust is lost, governing becomes much more difficult. There is suspicion. The street narrative- crucial to small community governance- goes negative. Once the ‘’negative chat’’ begins it becomes near impossible to turn that chat around. Governing, instead of being a pleasant walk in the park, becomes a trudge through a treacherous swamp.

Politicians and political parties have one thing in common in most countries: they are held in very low esteem by voters. This is not anything new. The world over, politicians are seen as a necessary evil. But some sage mind stated once that the democratic system is the worst of all systems, apart from all the rest.

Photo courtesy http://www.dailyadvent.com/

Now the problem with an early narrative that goes south is that it takes on the force of gravity. It can become near impossible to change the trajectory from a race to the bottom. And even when the government does things right, the good work it does is under a dark cloud.

A great example is Brexit. After the Brexit Referendum was won in 2016 the UK voter, or at least the 52% who voted Brexit believed that there would be a clean and swift break away from the European Market. This was what was sold the British Voter at the start of the Theresa May Government.

However the UK Prime Minister has been unable to deliver. And today UK politics is in meltdown and Brexit appears doomed.

The root cause of the present Brexit dilemma is the simple fact that government failed to tell the public just how difficult severing the cord with Europe would be. This was a lack of transparent, accountable, and honest governance.

The preceding is what happens when a government loses the confidence of the voter. And when that confidence is lost early in a term of governance then this is very ominous for any government. Voter and public support is the oxygen of governance.

When a government is trusted, and the people are on board in terms of their engagement in a transparent, accountable, and honest process, governing is a pleasure.

Goals and objectives are easily achieved. The government is united and strong. And the government is frequently assured of continuing political and election success.

The opposite is the case when a government loses the trust of the public. Its vision is impossible to achieve. There is ‘’skullduggery’’ and backstabbing within the government. And future election success is far from guaranteed. 

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Category: African Caribbean, Culture & Society

About the Author (Author Profile)

Dickson Igwe is an education official in the Virgin Islands. He is also a national sea safety instructor. He writes a national column across media and has authored a story book on the Caribbean: ‘The Adventures of a West Indian Villager’. Dickson is focused on economics articles, and he believes economics holds the answer to the full economic and social development of the Caribbean. He is of both West African and Caribbean heritage. Dickson is married with one son.

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