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Elections Equations 2015


Thirteen Two, Thirteen Two Zero or Fifteen Zero

by Benson Feddows Fri Apr 5, 2013

General elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines are not constitutionally due until the end of 2015. In politics that can seem to be an eternity. There is so much that can happen to change the dynamics of the body politic and consequently the political fortunes or misfortunes of political parties and individual politicians. Ordinarily, one will have to be off one’s rocker to be making predictions this far out. Having said that, I am willing to go against the grain, go out on a limb, defy the odds and make some predictions.{{more}} These aren’t ordinary circumstances; and these aren’t ordinary times. What do I mean by the subtitle: “Thirteen Two, Thirteen Two Zero or Fifteen Zero”?

“Thirteen, Two”, represents the outcome, in favour of the incumbent party if, as is expected, the two main parties, the Unity Labour Party and the New Democratic Party field candidates in all fifteen constituencies. This scenario is also predicated on the assumption that Sir James Mitchell, despite his differences with his successor, does not officially sever ties with the New Democratic Party and either actively campaigns for their candidates or sits on the sidelines and gives his tacit approval, albeit as a back-bencher. In this scenario, the New Democratic Party will retain both Grenadines seats. No offense to Ivan O’Neal and his “Green Movement” and to Anesia Baptiste’s Democratic Republican Party. I will address these two factors or non-factors later in this article.

“Thirteen Two Zero”, is representative of the results also in favor of the incumbent party. This scenario is quite plausible, if Sir James Mitchell decides to be a spoiler with the specific purpose of denying the New Democratic Party the two “safe seats” in the Grenadines. This he can do either by forming a new party and fielding two candidates or simply by his endorsement of two viable independent candidates in the Grenadines. As I pointed out in my article in this newspaper last year entitled: “Anesia: Her-Story” – “The people of the Grenadines are not “party loyalists”; they are loyal to a name that’s like music to their ears – “Mitchell”. This is not to belittle the people of the Grenadines; however, it is simply a statement of fact. The name Mitchell is to the Grenadines what the name Kennedy is to the state of Massachusetts. Therefore, in this equation, the incumbents sweep the mainland, the Mitchell affiliated party or independents take both Grenadines seats and the New Democratic Party takes zero and possibly become defunct and goes the way of the dinosaur.

The “Fifteen Zero” scenario. This I predict would be the outcome if, against the odds, an alliance is formed between Sir James and the Unity Labour Party, which causes him to give his blessing to the two candidates fielded by the incumbent party in the Grenadines. In this scenario, as in scenario 2, I am visualizing an “L” and an “S” as the first initials of the first names of the possible candidates. Bet against them and you’d be sure to lose your wager. It goes without saying that the clueless, hapless New Democratic Party will also score a goose’ egg in this scenario and possibly become attractive to scriptwriters, of a sequel to Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, with cameo appearances by Vincy cast members: Pessimistaurus, Ifidasaurus, Desecrataurus, Insignificantarus, and the rest of their discombobulated supporting cast, perched on the brink of Confusion Cliff as they are about to descend into the abyss of political oblivion.

As promised earlier, the Green Party and the Democratic Republican Party: Unfortunately for Mr O’Neal, there is no viable probability for his movement in this country, now or ever. Most people see the movement for what it really is a PAC (Political Action Committee) or pressure group; but then again, a group of how many? A dyad, tetrad, heptad, octad or how many stand-ins he can muster. Thanks to Mr O’Neal, the treasury is guaranteed five hundred dollars for each candidate his party puts forward, as they forfeit their deposits, since they cannot even garner the votes necessary to get refunded.

As regards the Democratic Republican Party and its hugely ambitious leader: As I have said in the past, I am not one of those persons who believes that Anesia’s political fortunes came crashing down when her senatorial appointment was revoked by the Opposition Leader last year. I am also on record as stating that, comparisons of her to other political hopefuls whose ambitions were thwarted by missteps and misfortunes are ill-placed and will prove to be wrong. This is a different era, a new dispensation and political environment.

Also, her ambition knows no bounds. She is media savvy. Communications devices and outlets, free and paid, are available to her and she is very adept at using all of them including radio, television, newspapers, social media as in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the rest of the internet-related mediums.

She knows how to get publicity even on the international scene as evidenced by her being named in the International Global Affairs Magazine recently while she attended an International Women’s Day Conference in Washington, DC. However, twenty-fifteen will be too soon for her to make significant inroads into the local political landscape in terms of electoral success. I am still of the opinion that she should switch from West St. George to East Kingstown. There she will be instrumental in bringing about the retirement from active politics, the person who took away her “half a loaf” and put her on the breadline. This she can accomplish by denying him about half of his majority; the other half going to “The Duke”, as the incumbents make a clean sweep of the mainland. Anesia can be comforted in the fact that she is, politically speaking, yet young. In 2020 and or beyond with good health, moderation of tone and message and with maturity, she may very well be back in parliament in her own right.

Why the dismal outlook for the New Democratic Party? Where do I begin? First off, as I said earlier, these are different times, a new dispensation. The populace and therefore the electorate are more informed, more educated and politically savvy. The thousands of young people who owe their secondary and tertiary education to the incumbent government by virtue of the Education Revolution which brought about Universal Secondary Education and The Disadvantaged Student Loan Program, affording a majority of those who would have only dreamt of gracing the halls of a university, the reality of matriculating to tertiary institutions to graduate with first and second degrees. The recently and hitherto fore unheard of feat of the three Valedictorians at all three campuses of the University of the West Indies, being Vincentians.

The New Democratic Party’s opposition to almost everything positive for the development of the country, including the Education Bill in parliament. The vociferous opposition to essential infrastructure projects, such as the building of new class rooms, to accommodate the additional number of students to secondary schools due to the Universal Secondary Education initiative, which they derided as ‘board schools’; their pessimism regarding the construction of the bridge over the Dry River, the Cross-country Road. The disparagement of worthwhile projects and initiatives such as the Home Health Care for the Elderly, the Low Income Homes Project, which they dubbed “phone booths and match boxes”. The Argyle International Airport, which they opposed for years, as in “The Project will be dead”. “Find it where?” A few days before the last General Elections, at a Media Conference, suddenly in an about face, reading from a script taken from a yellow Manila envelope, claimed to have found “An International Construction Firm which will”, reminiscent to what a mortician does, “finally get the Argyle International Airport in a state of readiness”. Readiness for what, burial? Then having lost the elections, came a few months later and said: “The Argyle International Airport is untimely and unlikely”. A very clear indication that the pre-elections statement of getting it in a state of readiness was what Vincentians saw it as, disingenuous and dishonest electioneering gimmickry, designed to hoodwink the electorate. The folly of declaring St. Vincent and the Grenadines a “Failed State”, when in fact by no acceptable international criteria is it such. The deprecating remark about our sovereign state being an “insignificant country”. The unpatriotic and opportunistic attempt to co-opt and bandwagon foreign direct investment disputes to create a destabilizing investor climate and thereby erode investor confidence.

I can go on and on with reasons why the Vincentian electorate is poised to deal the New Democratic Party a stinging rebuke at the polls in the next general elections; however I have to be cognizant of the fact that space is limited. Nonetheless, Vincentians are in tune and have been keeping their fingers on the pulse. The incumbent party is not a picture of perfection; however if one is honest, one must give it credit for a long laundry list of successes and achievements for its twelve years of stewardship so far. Even if for whatever reason the electorate wanted to give another party a chance to implement their programs and policies, that party simply does not exist – there is just absolutely NO CREDIBLE ALTERNATIVE!!!

Congratulations are in order to the Unity Labor Party on the achievement of Twelve Years in Office, yes “Office” not “Power”. Reference Psalms 62, verse 11: “God has spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongs unto God.” When elected for a fourth consecutive term in office, the incumbents must make a conscientious effort to avoid any display or appearance, implicitly or expressly, of the pathological proclivity of some politicians, their cronies, political appointees and operatives, for the propensity to demonstrate a predilection to be hubristic, imperious and downright arrogant.

Sophrosyne humility must be the rubrical standard.