by ALBERT BRANFORD
GENERAL ELECTIONS, constitutionally due in 2008, may be fought for the same number of 30 seats as in the 2003 poll if Government accepts the recommendation of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
In a report to Prime Minister Owen Arthur, (who has responsibility for elections), which was laid in the House of Assembly Friday, the five-member bipartisan EBC said that having reviewed the number and boundaries of the constituencies, it felt that "no alteration" was required to give effect to constitutional rules.
The report, submitted June 30, was made public only three weeks after Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley raised speculation about a possible hike in the number of seats in the House of Assembly during an address at a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association function.
Making out a case for reforming Parliament in which Cabinet members comprise the largest single bloc to restore its supremacy, Mottley conceded that public comment about increasing the size of Parliament would be met by "an immediate backlash largely because of the apathy which many of our citizens reflect in the post-Independence era in the Caribbean".
"So while persons may not want, at the domestic level, to hear about increasing the size of Parliament," she said, "the truth is that that increase, in fact, guarantees the democracy which we enjoy because it will allow Parliament once again to be the effective check and balance on the Executive."
The House started with 16 seats in 1639; went to 22 in 1645; 24, in 1843; 27, in 1981; 28, in 1991; and 30, in 2003.
The EBC noted that the rules call for each constituency not to exceed 115 per cent nor be less than 85 per cent of the total electorate divided by the number of constituencies.
At January 31, 2006, the official voters' list contained 228 013 electors, giving a maximum number for each constituency of 8 740; the average number in each of 7 600; and a minimum of 6 460.
There are eight constituencies with more than 8 000 voters; (St Philip South with 8 761 being the largest); 15 with more than 7 000; and seven with more than 6 000 voters, with the smallest constituency being St Michael Central with 6 706 voters.