EDITORIAL: The rare manifesto unicorn

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The clock is ticking and it would appear that the ‘thief in the night election’ has caught everyone unprepared.  We say that because we are three weeks out from an election and there has been no communication from any of the parties with their detailed plans for moving the country forward.  At this point, we would have expected to have received the manifestos from all of the parties.  Certainly, we did not expect them in a hard printed form but electronic would have sufficed.  
This is a major miss by everyone and we cannot understand why.  At first, we thought we simply missed it and checked the websites of the major parties, starting with the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP).  A visit to ablp.ag displays a prominent link labeled “Click here to read manifesto” but the results are extremely disappointing with nothing more than a new page with a message stating “ No posts found / Showing random posts,” and a bunch of random posts.  Of all the parties in the running, we expected the ABLP to have their manifesto sorted.  Sadly no.
Next we visited
the United Progressive
Party (UPP) at unitedprogressive.party which is the UPP’s digital hub.  Do not be confused by the Wikipedia website listing which states uppantigua.com because that hosts a Japanese page about selling cars (at least according to Google translate).  This is certainly not a good thing, just three weeks from an election when people are hunting for information to make their election decision.  In any case, we were unable to locate anything more than the T.A.L.E.N.T.S platform which the party says will restore pride and prosperity to the nation.  We guess that could be the bones of a manifesto, but it is not a manifesto.
Stop number three on the manifesto treasure hunt was the National Democratic Alliance (DNA).  We were unable to find a website but it would appear that they have concentrated their online presence to facebook www.facebook.com/
DNAAntiguaBarbuda/).  However, we scanned their page for a manifesto but did not discover one.
To use an American baseball term, we struck out.  We took three swings at it and never hit a manifesto.  That leads to the obvious question:  didn’t everyone say that they were ready?  How can the public be expected to make an informed decision without the information that is normally contained in a manifesto to review? Are we just going to have a mudslinging election where the winner will be decided based on feelings rather than hard facts and plans for the nation?
This is a giant fail.  At this point, all of the parties should have their manifesto ready for distribution, at least electronically.  We understand that printing a manifesto without a firm date is risky, so we are willing to concede that point. But, a party should always have a manifesto as a working document, being constantly tweaked and upgraded.  It should not be a case where an election is called and people are scrambling to put something together.  A day or two should be all it takes to get the final out the door.
Some people are suggesting that the delay is one of ‘no one wants to go first’ but we cannot buy that.  It is too late to be changing an entire campaign platform, and a manifesto is not something that is written overnight.  The absence or late arrival of these critical documents is a disservice to the voters.  They will be deprived of sufficient time to make in-depth comparative analysis of the parties’ plans, and that is not good for our democracy nor our national development.  
We know that some people are saying that the manifestos are not worth the paper they are written on or the electronic bits and bytes on which they may be transmitted, but those documents are the closest thing we have to an ‘agreement’ with our politicians.  It is what we use as a marking scheme to know if they have performed and whether they have delivered on their
promises.  If their fluffy words are not committed to a document that is widely circulated,then there is nothing to hold their feet to the fire.  So, if you think that the paper is worthless, try putting value to their words on the campaign trail that exist only for the briefest of seconds.
This is a serious issue that needs to be rectified immediately.  When we inquire, all we hear is “It is coming,” but the election is also coming.  The voting public cannot be expect to go to the polls if they are kept in the dark about the parties’ plans for the nation.  If that happens, we will have an election of personalities and not issues and personalities do not run a country … wait! Forget we said that!
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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