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The campaign is over

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Finally and thankfully, we have come to the end of a drawn-out election campaign which has grabbed the attention of the populace, diverted scarce resources for campaign purposes, raised personal stress levels, caused friction among individuals and dominated the local scene. It will come as a welcome relief to many that things will quieten down tomorrow, albeit temporarily, while we wait with bated breath on the results of the poll.{{more}}

As we prepare to cast our ballots, Vincentians can feel justly proud that we have maintained our record of elections which are generally free of violence. In spite of the provocations of some, and strong language loosely employed at rallies and on radio and social media, the electorate has resisted any temptation to resort, except in one or two minor incidents, to violent means to try and enforce political will.

With so much at stake on both sides, the campaign at times however sank to depths never before seen in this country, with social media providing those intent on getting dirty with a convenient and effective vehicle to execute their nefarious deeds. This is a dangerous trend which we need to check now, as it has the potential to undermine our democracy.

The impact of social media on electioneering was certainly not all negative. New media has brought a new dynamic and pace to the way we campaign that has empowered the electorate and allowed average voters to become activists for their parties in a manner we have not previously seen. There were many examples during this campaign where party stalwarts have, in record time, provided effective responses/counters to statements and proposals made by the other side.

It has been a tense and intense campaign, with both the governing party and its major opponent seemingly well-matched, if one is to judge by the enthusiastic turnouts at their respective meetings and rallies. Last weekend, both major parties ramped up the efforts and brought out their largest crowds to date — the Unity Labour Party (ULP) at the Argyle International Airport and the New Democratic Party (NDP) at Victoria Park. Both parties, however, know from experience in the 2010 elections and the 2009 referendum that huge crowds are no guarantee of electoral success. The crowds, however, should offer comfort that their respective bases are in place.

The campaigning will end today and our major responsibility now is to uphold the integrity of the electoral process by casting our votes peacefully and obeying all regulations.

Above all, after the voting is over, we should demonstrate our faith in the integrity of the process by accepting that the result is the will of the people, as expressed via the ballot box.

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