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The hands of the electoral clock are moving

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Fri Mar 20, 2015

The hands of the electoral clock in St Vincent and the Grenadines moved closer to their apex on Tuesday of this week with an agreement by both sides of Parliament on the initiative of the Supervisor of Elections on the process for ‘cleaning up’ the Voters’ List. Given the fact that the current administration is in its final year, the last major administrative impediment would soon be out of the way and only political factors will therefore influence the timing of the elections.{{more}}

Under the agreement, an amendment to the Representation of the People Act will shortly be tabled in Parliament paving the way for the office of the Supervisor of Elections to oversee the sanitization of the Voters’ List. This List has been for a long time now, a source of contention since mathematically, it is impossible to reconcile the quantity of names with the actual adult population of St Vincent and the Grenadines. When this process is complete it is expected that up to 20,000 names could be expunged from the list.

The Supervisor of Elections and her hardworking staff must be commended for the initiative to have this electoral sore removed from our body politic. Praise must also go out to both Government and Opposition for their cooperation in having this important matter resolved. It is not very often that such cross-party cooperation is achieved and just as we castigate them when they squabble, so too we must applaud their statesmanship. We can only wish and will the parties to continue in this vein, even if only on electoral matters.

Should this cooperation become a trend, then it bodes well for the conduct of the elections, not at an administrative level, but at the level of the conduct of the main protagonists. One would recall disagreements when the Christian Council attempted to get consensus in this regard. And, what about the sore question of electoral financing?

This is a most difficult and delicate subject, yet election after election, we hear allegations about improper financing seeking to influence the outcome of elections. The Organisation of American States (OAS) has been trying to coax states in the Caribbean and Latin America to pass legislation to govern this area but except for a few cosmetic steps, there has been no fundamental improvement.

We can now say that when Parliament does pass the amendment to the electoral laws, and the List is sanitized, then we are well and truly on the way towards a keen electoral contest. The governing ULP has in recent times given indication that it is cranking up its electoral machine and the Opposition has long been demanding the holding of elections, so it must be in a state of readiness. This upcoming general election is shaping up to be quite interesting – we should hold on to our seats, it promises to be quite a ride. Let us hope however, that in the midst of everything that maturity, decency and fairplay prevail.

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