Enforcing Promises

by | October 2, 2011

One of the biggest problems facing an electorate is the broken promise, a promise made by a candidate which is not kept after his election. Surely it is not reasonable to allow this kind of behavior. Promises made must be kept or else an election becomes a farce, with each candidate promising goodies which he has no intention of providing.

A perfect example of this kind of farce is to be witnessed during the current provincial election in Ontario, Canada. Dalton McGuinty, premier for the previous two terms, had signed a statement with the Taxpayers Federation in 2003 that he would

Not raise taxes or implement any new taxes without the explicit consent of Ontario voters and will not run deficits. I promise to abide by the Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act.

Not only did he not abide by his promise but he raised taxes in multiple areas during the course of his tenure. (See taxpayer.com for more details.)

How to combat such blatant disregard for the democratic process? One way, the easiest way, is to allow each candidate to sign an official manifesto of the items to which he will be accountable. Verbal promises would still be allowed although, if not contained in the manifesto, the electorate would know that the promises are fluff. The manifesto would be officially registered with the electoral commission. Any politician breaking a registered promise would be guilty of a criminal offense, subject to arrest, trial and fine and/or imprisonment even during his tenure.

But what if a promise needs to be broken for good reason? Of course, this may happen in rare circumstances. One solution would be to allow promises to be broken through a plebescite which would ask the electorate for permission to break the promise because of extenuating circumstances.

What could be fairer?

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