Debates are critical to participatory governance and strengthening of democracy, notes ORG – EyeWitness News

Posted: June 2, 2021 at 5:46 am

NASSAU, BAHAMAS Recognizing the vital role that debates can have on national elections, the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) has lent its support to the National Election Debate series (NEDS).

ORG has partnered with presenting sponsors, the University of The Bahamas (UB) and Verizon Media, as well as other civil society, private sector and media groups involved to promote the series. The second debate will take place tonight at 8pm with a theme of COVID-19 and Climate Change and two more debates will follow.

ORG is also encouraging all political parties and candidates to participate so the event can be an inclusive and accessible chance for prospective voters to hear directly on a range of issues that are critical to the future of The Bahamas.

The non-partisan, not-for-profit civic foundation holds that establishing a two-way dialogue between government and citizens is critical to building public trust and strengthening democracy. Historically, election campaigns have relied heavily on celebratory and promotional one-way communication methods such as rallies and media ads. These do not support voters in making an objective and critical analysis of policy solutions that are offered by the various candidates. ORG feels that the National Election Debate Series can empower voters by offering side-by-side comparisons of their choices for election.

Research shows that pre-election debates help voters, who make better-informed choices, and candidates, who are pushed to focus on policy issues and tangible solutions. They also have post-election benefits, promoting the accountability of those who are elected to follow up on their campaign promises and building the trust of the public in the government. Successive administrations have struggled to fulfill policies that were platforms of their campaign manifestos.

ORG sees the greater involvement of citizens in national development as a key to the future success and sustainability of The Bahamas, having launched The Year of the Active Citizen earlier this year.

ORG Engagement Coordinator Steffon Evans stated: Election debates are a fundamental component of participatory governance. Following the economic and social devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be critical for Bahamians to make solid decisions on how the country might move forward with its recovery.

Evans operates ORGs citizen engagement and education activities, including the Year of the Active Citizenship.

ORG Executive Director Matthew Aubry sees the debates as a crucial step toward a modern and transparent governance in The Bahamas and stated: The National Election Debate series can provide Bahamians with a chance to move beyond the manifesto and hear the plan behind the promise. They support a culture of governance that is not specific to any one party or sector and is indicative of a forward step we can take as a nation.

ORG applauded the partners, parties and candidates who are participating thus far as they demonstrate a respect for an inclusive and accountable exchange between the public and the government to drive more effective policy. ORG hopes that all parties will see the value of the National Election Debates series to the Bahamian voters and choose to participate in the final sessions.

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Debates are critical to participatory governance and strengthening of democracy, notes ORG - EyeWitness News

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