Yes to Local Government, No to Participatory Democracy: The Local Governance Reform Dilemma in Trinidad, St. Lucia and St. Vincent

Bishnu Ragoonath


In the Commonwealth Caribbean countries of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, local government reform has been and continues to remain on the agenda. The proposals are all based on the philosophy that there should be elected local government, which in turn should facilitate substantive levels of participatory democracy and citizen involvement. But whilst there is general acceptance of this philosophy, central governments are seemingly reluctant to implement any reforms which would return power to the people. Citizen involvement and participatory democracy has thus become the bug-bear in the process, and has led to the stalling of local government reform in all three countries. With reforms having stalled, one wonders whether the next step will be the dissolution of systems of local government in these states.

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