Quick Observations from the Dominica Elections
(1) Don’t believe everything you hear, see or read, especially in this era of social media with its preponderance of misleading (and sometimes patently false) news stories and commentaries. Most of the reports coming out of Dominica in the weeks leading up to the elections, led many to predict the impending annihilation of Prime Minister Skerrit and the Dominica Labour Party, rather than the landslide victory that came their way. The lesson here is that we should at all times strive to ensure that our news diet is mixed — not all from the same source.
(2) The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) won 40 per cent of the popular vote and got 19 per cent of the seats. This result is another glaring example of the weakness in the Westminster first past the poll election model, in place in Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and many other Caribbean countries. Such outcomes are deeply disruptive to the expectation that Parliament should reflect the popular will. This is why other countries have chosen more hybrid models (as had been proposed in the SVG 2009 Constitution) so that the distribution of seats in Parliament more properly reflects the popular vote. We inherited the Westminster parliamentary system as part of our colonial heritage. Nothing prevents us from fixing its flaws and we should consider doing so sometime in the future.
(3) The number of women participating and winning their seats in the Dominica elections is encouraging. Eight of the 21 people elected to Parliament are women and 38 per cent of the women who ran won their seats, compared with the 31 per cent success rate of the men. We have a long way to go here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, with only one woman each being declared so far by the two major parties to contest the next general elections.
(4) There are few things more disappointing to those heavily invested in politics than to lose an election. But what is it about losing an election that makes politicians say things that defy logic? How do you declare the general elections illegitimate and reject the results in all constituencies, except those constituencies that your party won? Then, there is the claim that a minimum of 8000 people (perhaps as many as 13,000) were bribed and flown / ferried into Dominica in the days leading up to the elections so that they could vote for the DLP. Let’s do the math. Dominica doesn’t have an international airport, which means a maximum 72 people were flown in per flight. This works out to over 100 flights of ATR-72 type aircraft landing in the days leading up to the elections; more if smaller aircraft were used. As for the ferries, how many ferries came in and from where?