Letters:Is There Anything Like “national Interest” In Party Politics? Whose Interest? What Interest? – Gambia Radio Stations


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Dear editor,
1. What is a political party? (Certainly it is different from a pressure group or NGO)
2. Why do we form a political party? Its main objective or raison d’etre? The real job
3. Why do we join political parties?
4. Why do candidates run on the tickets of political parties to represent constituencies? (Of course there are “independent” candidates)
5. Who do people, in the main, vote for: the party and the programs presented to them or the candidate solely without regards to the party on whose ticket he or she is running on?
6. If a candidate runs and wins on a party ticket but decides to go against the core values and principles of that party or its leadership what should the party?
7. Is there anything, in realpolitik or party politics, like “national interest”? Does the party in power actually push forward a “national agenda” or it’s its political party programme which is superimposed on the nation as “national agenda or interest”?
I don’t have answers to the questions above but I do know that political parties are absolutely necessary in representative, participatory governments. I do know too that often time the political manifesto or programme of the political party in power is what is often superimposed as the “national agenda” or interest. Most of the programmes of this Government are what were agreed on in the coalition’s manifesto, driven as national agenda.

I know too that political parties must clarify their core values and principles to all their members, include how membership will be forfeited. Orientation programmes are absolutely necessary. One cannot belong to a group and go against its vision, mission and core values. But it also means that political candidature should, by and large, be reserved for those who have “grown” in political party and understand party politics. People who grow in political parties, imbuing its tenets and values often don’t betray their causes, come storm, rain or shine.

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Well political parties can be “regimental”, straitjackets so to speak, because when the political chips are down, one can be forced to toe the party line, its political position a “national interest” in the eye of that party. If you are a “nonconformist” or one who owes primary allegiance to his or her “conscience”, whatever that means, then join no political party, then vie on “independent” ticket and be a free bird. Guess it is difficult to eat one’s cake and have it. The Parliament is a political party battleground, with the party in power and opposition outdoing each other, selling “party agenda” as national interest, and sometimes playing to the gallery. Ultimately matters unresolved are settled through voting which is often always a show of party strength in the House, no matter horse trading takes place.

Njundu Drammeh

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