Vincentian Election Titans
The announcement that both the Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and his Deputy Montgomery Daniel will no longer contest general elections following their victories in the November 5 poll, will see the end of two of the longest-standing successful constituency reigns.
Both led the charge for their party’s “Five-in-a-row” victory but both have known what it is to taste the bitterness of defeat. Gonsalves had to swallow that bitter pill on his first three outings 1979-1989 on the tickets of the United Peoples Movement and then the Movement for National Unity, before his first triumph in 1994 in an alliance with the SVG Labour Party. Daniel himself made an unsuccessful attempt at the North Windward seat in 1989 for the Labour Party before his historic first triumph in 2001. He has now risen to become the first person of Garifuna descent to rise to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. Neither Gonsalves nor Daniel has lost since being elected to the House of Assembly.
However if we wish to look at the most successful politicians in general elections in SVG, pride of place must go to former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell, a veritable titan in our electoral politics. He has the distinction of a record nine victories at the polls.
However his was not an unbroken spell in the House of Assembly for having won in the Grenadines on four successive occasions, 1966-1974, he left that constituency to contest the South Central Windward seat on the mainland in the historic 1979 elections, the first after independence. But he was handed his only electoral defeat, losing to Mr Offord Morris of the Labour Party. Morris, not renowned in local politics, soundly defeated two of the most prominent political leaders in our history, Mitchell and the legendary ET Joshua.
Mitchell returned to Parliament after a Grenadines by-election in 1980 and proceeded to remain there until his retirement in 2001. Joshua himself, victorious at the first elections after Adult Suffrage in 1951, had an unbroken run of eight victories, spending a record 28 years in Parliament before being upended in 1979.
Current PM Gonsalves has seven victories to his credit, equalling the late Levi Latham, the titan of the Marriaqua valley who retired undefeated in 1979, a local record. Latham’s political Leader, SVG’s first Prime Minister Milton Cato of the Labour party had six wins, the same as the first woman to be elected to our local parliament, Ivy Joshua.
The two current Parliamentary representatives from the Grenadines, Opposition leader Godwin Friday and Terrence Olliviere, have each chalked up five victories, and still counting, along with veterans of the earlier years, Samuel Slater and Clive Tannis.
Truly an impressive list! (Contributed)