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Twenty-nine days to go


The waiting is over. After months of speculation and consultation of the scriptures, we now know that voters in this country will go to the polls in 29 days time.

For most electors, those 29 days cannot go by quickly enough. There is tension in the atmosphere and the only thing that will bring a measure of ease is the announcement of what is the will of the people on the night of December 9.{{more}}

We say ‘a measure of ease,’ as St Vincent and the Grenadines always seems to be in partisan political mode, with campaigning taking place every day on the radio stations dedicated to broadcasting the propaganda of the respective parties, even right after general elections.

So by now, Vincentians are pretty much saturated with the messaging from the political parties and most electors have made up their minds about which party they intend to vote for. Yes, party, not candidate, as generally, the electorate in St Vincent and the Grenadines, as is the case in the wider Caribbean, still votes party first, candidate second.

Last Saturday night, when he rang the bell, the Prime Minister asked his supporters not to make personal attacks on others or to engage in gutter politics during their campaigning in the days leading up to December 9. This gesture by the political leader of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) was indeed a noble one, but given the history of politics in this country, it is unlikely that this ideal will be achieved, either by the candidates or supporters of the ULP or the main opposition New Democratic Party.

The ironic thing is that even though citizens may voice a desire for platform speakers at political rallies and radio hosts to stick to discussion of the policies and programming of the political parties, policy and programming issues very rarely excite the base of the parties. The politicians know this and take the easy route by reverting to what elicits a response from their supporters.

This is most unfortunate because we, the electorate, really need to hear and pay better attention to what the political parties stand for and what they say they have in store for us. It makes no sense after the event to say, “I wish I had known.”

Both parties have begun to spell out the specifics of their respective programmes and in the next few weeks, we can expect to learn more when the manifestos are presented. It is a pity that debates during which the candidates can be questioned about these programmes are not part of our political culture. We, however, urge electors, even those who think their minds are made up, to seriously reflect on the issues as we go forward. Our future depends on this.