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Nov 25, 2016

Referendum Act Will Be Amended for Fifty Plus One Majority

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

The Barrow Administration has agreed to reduce the referendum threshold from sixty percent to fifty percent plus one, by amending the existing Referendum Act.  That decision comes ahead of a Senate meeting to be held next Wednesday during which upper parliament is expected to endorse the special agreement on taking the Guatemalan claim to the ICJ.  Presently, a minimum of sixty percent voter turnout is necessary for any referendum to considered binding.  While that ratio is relatively high, it may have very well been the reason why Guatemala reneged on the initial date agreed upon with Belize to hold simultaneous referenda.  Since Guatemala withdrew from that process in 2013, the Government of Belize has been contemplating an amendment to allow for a simple majority instead.  According to Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, it is welcomed news.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“It is a good sign to my mind.  From the time we have started having elections, general elections the law has been that for you to have a winner at the election that person must get fifty percent of the vote plus on, where the other contenders get less than that.  The one who gets the most, fifty percent plus one of the votes, that one is elected.  What we are doing with the Referendum Act is to make it identical to the general elections regime whereby with fifty plus one you have a successful outcome of the referendum.  The Referendum Act as presently formulated was not intended to be the threshold that we would use for a general referendum.  We had thought of the referendum for the Guatemalan issue from as early as the sixties, that was something that we were committed to and at that time the contemplation was that a Referendum Act would simply be fifty plus one to be successful.  So that is all that it involves nothing more than that.”

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