Belize Peace Movement discusses the three-year road to redistricting
The Belize Peace Movement says that it will remain vigilant in pressing the Government and the Elections and Boundaries Commission to ensure that each of the nation’s electoral divisions are equal in the constituent size. In other words, all areas should have generally the same number of electors. It is something that they’ve been pursuing in the courts for the last three years. Because the redistricting exercise has not happened when it is constitutionally mandated, elections beginning in 2003 and onwards are unconstitutional. According to one of the organisation’s lawyers, Michelle Trapp, compared to other countries around the world, the malapportionment in the constituencies is glaring. By the Election and Boundaries department count up to the end of September 2022, Stann Creek West is the largest electoral division with 10,284 registered voters and Belize Rural South – which includes San Pedro Town – is at 9,391 registered electors. Compare that to the smallest constituencies which are Fort George at 2,224, Mesopotamia at 2,742 and Albert at 2,819.
Michelle Trapp, Attorney: “Only five divisions in Belize really and truly reach the standards as it relates to what prevails in the international standards. He looked at the Venice Commission, he looked at different judgments from Korea, he looked at judgments from Canada, Australia, United States. So he went basically around the globe and looked to see what prevails in those countries as it pertains to the international standards. At paragraph nine in his executive summary he said most countries fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. A fuller account of these standards lie in the body of the report but United Kingdom for example allows for deviation of up to 10% as does Italy. Germany and Zchec Republic allows for deviation up to 15%. Malta and Macedonia allow deviations of up to 5%. Overall most countries seem to employ an allowable deviation threshold of between 10% and 15%. He says at paragraph ten “The degree of malapportionment present in Belize today far exceeds any threshold suggested in other countries by international organizations.”
And because the boundaries will have to be realigned because the current setup violates the electoral rules, we asked the Belize Peace Movement’s Paul Morgan whether the organisation has changed its stance on the possibility of gerrymandering. Here is what he had to say.
Paul Morgan, Belize Peace Movement: “Yes the position is the same. If the government is smart enough to gerrymander perhaps they need a Nobel Prize. I’m not saying this to belittle our own people but the constituencies at this point in time are so badly misaligned that anybody who could bring this situation to their own advantage they’re smart let them go ahead and do it and see where we go.”