LETTER | To those who are contemplating and advocating an anti-party hopping law, I would advise caution. Press the pause button and think again.
I contend that any anti-party hopping law would be illegal and a violation of human rights. It is the right of any member of a political party to quit his party for whatever reason and whenever he or she wants to.
Consider this: When we go to the polls, we vote for the candidate. Period. We do not vote for the party that he represents or is beholden to.
This fact is clearly seen when we vote for an independent candidate. In that case, we vote not for his party (because there is none) but for him as an individual.
So, we can’t have two systems - one, voting for the candidate and the other, voting for the party.
Of course, we vote for candidates depending on the promises made - either on their own behalf or reflecting their party manifesto. But the fact still remains that we vote for the individual.
Now, that individual did not sign any contract with the voters to say he will not leave his party.
To insist on an anti-party hopping law is to restrict the candidate from acting according to his conscience and the promises he has made to the electorate.
If a candidate, post-election, is opposed to a position advocated by his party, he should be free to act according to his conscience. And since he did not sign any contract with his electorate, he cannot now be held to ransom by any anti-party hopping law. Legally he has done no wrong. And it is arguable if he has violated any moral code.
I do appreciate the reasoning behind those who are advocating such a law. It is born out of a need to ensure candidates do not jump ship for mercenary reasons. If that happens, the recourse open to the electorate is to vote the candidate out at the next hustings.
I repeat, there is no enforceable contract between the candidate and his electorate. There is only a moral obligation to advance the interests of the electorate. It should be left to the candidate to decide how to discharge that obligation, either through his political party, or through another political party, or as an independent.
So, advocates of anti-party hopping law, please think again.