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Just a few more weeks to go

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St Vincent and the Grenadines goes to the polls in less than two months time.

We can say that with some measure of certainty, because the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that the general elections will be held this year, as he does not intend to go over into the 90-day period which will take him to March, 2016.{{more}}

The last general elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines were held on December 13, 2010, so, using that date as a cut-off point, we can expect that polling day will be sometime between November 10 and December 12 – a tiny one-month window.

We say the earliest date is November 10, because, according to our Constitution, the Prime Minister must give a minimum of three weeks and maximum of six weeks notice for the general elections. So, for the elections to be held on November 10, the Prime Minister would have to request the dissolution of Parliament today, October 20, the likelihood of which is very slim.

Although there is a sizeable proportion of the electorate which votes for their party irrespective of the issues, it is our sense that the numbers who do so are on the decline and that more Vincentians are paying attention to the position of the political parties on the issues that matter to them. Interestingly, it is the younger voters that give the impression of being more willing to vote based on the policies and programmes articulated by the parties and not necessarily on traditional family support for a particular party.

Issue number one for many voters is the protection of existing jobs and creation of new ones, especially for school leavers. Leadership in these troubled times, health care, crime, completion of the international airport and the state of our infrastructure, especially roads, are all important. The provision of affordable housing; clean, cheaper sources of energy; nutritious, safe, affordable food; and access to education at all levels determine our quality of life and so must also be considered.

We want our goverment to tackle all these, while maintaining an effective social safety net to protect our most vulnerable citizens, reducing taxes and keeping their hands out of State coffers.

Despite the presence of the Green Party and the Democratic Republican Party among the slate of candidates, the upcoming general elections are a straight fight between the Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).

The voters have seen the ULP at work on these issues over the last 14 years, so we can judge them on their record. Has their performance been good enough to allow them to continue on the job for at least another five years? Do they have fresh, workable ideas for the future? Or do the plans articulated thus far by the NDP give hope that their performance will be better? We live in serious times and the decision we make in the next few weeks will determine our fate for a period beyond the five-year term of the government we elect. So, let’s choose wisely.

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