Expectations for the Election Campaign
With the campaign season for the next general elections having officially begun, as evidenced by the commencement of village meetings by the New Democratic Party and the recent mass rally and conferences of the various party organs of the Unity Labour Party, now is as good a time as any to focus on what we expect of those seeking our vote as the campaign progresses.
The parties have a responsibility to spell out their vision for the future; an obligation to tell us how they can realize their vision; and the urgent task of persuading the majority of Vincentians that their party is worthy of our vote.
The challenges of our small developing country are many. We need an economy that can sustain a decent quality of life for our people. Our healthcare, our schools, our roads, our safety, these are but some of the fundamentals of Vincentian life that both political parties must address. And we need utter clarity and transparency in the answers they give to these questions.
We also need an election campaign and an election process that truly respect the voice of the electorate. For even as the parties prepare for the next election, we do not have finality on the disputes which arose at the conclusion of the last election. Our Appeal Court has yet to render a final decision on the claim that the last election was stolen. We need a judgement from the court as it is crucial that when we embark upon the next general elections, there is no doubt among the electorate in the integrity of our electoral system. Those who participate in our elections ought to be in the forefront trumpeting the value of the vote and protecting the right of all voters to have their votes counted.
Elections of course are deeply divisive exercises. And we can expect the rhetoric to become quite heated as parties use every medium at their disposal to champion themselves and belittle their rivals. But we still wish to remind everyone: Our elections constitute the greatest expression of civic duty in our country. Virtually every five years we re-enact a ritual that is now almost 70 years old. It underwrites the most essential principle of Vincentian life: the right of our people to govern ourselves. And in all the din that our election campaign will bring, let us not forget we are celebrating a gift granted to us by the struggles of our ancestors.