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SVG breaks referendum voting trend

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On December 13, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the first English speaking Caribbean country to re-elect a government following a failed referendum.{{more}}

On Monday, Vincentians elected the Unity Labour Party for its third term in government, breaking a 50-year old trend in which Opposition parties from two other Caribbean countries formed government in the elections which followed a rejected referendum.

This trend was recognized by Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as he gave a lecture at the University of the West Indies Open Campus on referenda in Kingstown last year.

Justice Saunders had said this may have been a clear sign of persons voting along partisan political lines.

On May 2, 2002, in The Bahamas, the opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won 29 of the 40 seats in the House of Assembly to defeat the governing Free National Movement (FNM), following the February 27, 2002, referendum which sought approval to make changes to five main areas of the country’s constitution.

Similarly, in Jamaica in 1961, the people were faced with the question of remaining in, or withdrawing from, the West Indies Federation, which included nine other British territories.

On September 19 that year, the Jamaican people voted not to remain in the Federation, and in the elections of April 10, 1962, the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won 26 seats to the People’s National Party’s 19 to earn the right to lead Jamaica into independence.

In November 2009, the majority of Vincentians voted ‘No’ to the proposed new constitution. The referendum was supported by only 43.13% of voters, while 55.64% were against it.

Political commentators in the Caribbean had noted that while the referendum was largely considered apolitical, the result did not augur well for the ruling ULP government. (OS)

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