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The day after the general elections


by Maxwell Haywood 10.DEC.10

Much attention must be paid to ensuring that the general election will be free and fair. The stakes are too high to take this for granted. Otherwise, the day after the general election could spell more instability for years to come.{{more}}

Recently, a friend said to me that she cannot wait until the nightmare called the general election is over. She called attention to the psychological, verbal and physical violence emanating from both political parties. My friend lamented the possibilities of this nightmare continuing after the general election. My friend’s concerns are justified, even if Vincentians have the power to prevent the nightmare from enduring.

If the ULP wins

If the ULP wins, it will continue to move headlong with its policies and programmes. But the policies of the Government will generally continue to be seen by the NDP as only a ULP affair and not a national affair. Based on the current NDP attitude to the ULP agenda, it is expected that the NDP will turn up the heat on the ULP to prevent it from carrying out its policy agenda.

Ever since the Referendum on the Constitution in November 2009, the NDP has been of the perception that it is “on the brink of being returned to power”.

So if the ULP wins, the NDP might not accept the results because its leadership and supporters are fully convinced that the NDP will win the elections. According to the NDP, barring rigged elections, the victory belongs to the NDP, not to the ULP. They proclaim that there is no way the people will allow the ULP to win.

After all this bragging and boasting, it is logical to ask these questions: But suppose the NDP loses after all the votes are counted, what will it do? How will the NDP react? Will the NDP say it was foul-play? Will it resist? If it does resist, what will be the nature of this resistance?

If the NDP wins

On the other hand, let us consider what might happen if the NDP wins. Now if the NDP wins and decides to continue the ULP’s public policies that it condemned while in opposition, it will have a lot of explaining to do to escape massive embarrassment. And if it really continues these ULP policies, it will be guilty of trying to fool the Vincentian people into thinking that the ULP-led public policies were destructive. In this context, if it continues the ULP policies, it must expect that the ULP will work overtime to expose its hypocrisy, and as a result, the time of the NDP in office will be made very difficult.

The questions in my mind are these: Will the ULP supporters stand by and see all these initiatives go the waste bin? Will they resist? And what will be the nature of this resistance? These are no simple questions. But I am compelled to ask them. Furthermore, if the NDP wins, will the ULP see the NDP victory as a mandate by the people to discontinue the ULP policies and programmes? It is normal to see the general election results as a mandate for the winning party. In this case, the NDP leaders and supporters would have gotten a mandate to carry out their displeasure with many of the ULP’s major policies and programmes.

Based on what we are seeing currently, the ULP might not rest. It could be “heavy jamming” to come from the ULP toward the NDP. All pre-election signs point toward the notion that if the NDP wins, the ULP will continue to “keep the fire burning” under the NDP. This will become more compelling, especially if the NDP moves to discontinue the development policies, projects, and processes initiated by the ULP.

If the NDP wins, it is most likely that the policies of the NDP-led Government will also be seen as only an NDP affair and not a national affair, which leads me to another thought.

Can political divisiveness cease?

Political tribalism is bound to continue regardless of which party wins the next general elections. Political divisiveness has reached a level never before seen in SVG. Both parties will continue efforts to destroy each other. There is nothing to show at this point that the leadership and membership of both parties will change course. The current trends point to the possibility that the affairs of life in SVG will increasingly be seen through the prism of party politics and political divisiveness.

Everything we do is now suspect and judged according to party politics. How sad! Those of us who are involved in development work in the interest of the nation know the extent of the destructive nature of political party divisiveness.

Nothing is wrong with parties competing for the seat of Government. Strong competition is expected. But there is a difference between mature and genuine competition on one hand, and political party divisiveness or political party tribalism on the other hand.

General preventative approach

What could happen might just actually happen. Therefore, Vincentians at home and abroad must be very alert to the strong potential for more instability in SVG the day after the general election. All Vincentians must make sure that unity, justice, peace, truth, and a genuine development public policy framework or agenda prevail the day after the general elections.