SVG Elections – A Grassroots Analysis – part 1
Editor: I am not a political pundit; nor am I one of those persons with an axe to grind. Instead I wish to give a balanced perspective of SVG elections 2020.
Before the Elections
The NDP must be commended for their vigorous campaign in its attempt to oust the ULP from government. Since 2015 when NDP narrowly lost the elections, they have been on the ground in most of the constituencies engaging the people in discussion. Like constant water that wears away a stone, they highlighted what they perceived as the mismanagement and weaknesses within the ULP. Added to this was the influence of the media. Two online media networks used sensational headlines to woo persons into reading a number of distorted articles that painted the ULP in a negative light, while two well-known radio stations supporting the NDP engaged persons in discussing truth mingled with unfounded allegations regarding the ULP. The newspapers must not be forgotten and there are also two newspapers that tend to be quite biased in their reporting, again using sensational front page headlines that project the leading party in a negative light.
The ULP were quite unconcerned and behaved as though the “near loss” was not important. It must be noted that once a person makes the decision to become involved in politics, that person’s life is open to public scrutiny. The scandal, regarding the alleged involvement of the Minister of Finance with a young lady remained fresh in everyone’s mind and the deafening silence on the matter gave rise to further speculations. Further, the constant complaint, with evidence, of the poor working conditions in the hospital and the shoddy treatment of patients by some nurses as well as the inexperience of doctors, were major issues that needed attention. Again, excuses were made by the government and the matter, to my mind, was trivialized. These critical areas gave NDP a much need advantage to claim the popular votes. Another area that worked against the ULP is the tendency for the Prime Minister to speak to every issue. This works against the party. Not only does it make the Prime Minister seem to be micro-managing but it subtly suggests that the Minister in charge of that particular Ministry is inefficient! He projected himself as “the Party”. Hence, the concerted effort of the Opposition to focus heavily on discrediting the PM! And it worked!
Another area that worked in favour of the Opposition was the length of time that the Prime Minister took to call the election. About two to three months before elections were called, the Opposition seemed to be in disarray. There was a power struggle among the Marriaqua contenders about who should be the elected candidate to run against the Hon. St Clair Prince; only at the last minute were candidates acquired to run against Hon. Ralph Gonsalves and his son. The delay in calling the elections gave the Opposition time to regroup and strategize. Some persons may say that it shows the measure of the man – the PM; other claim that he doesn’t have the jungle instinct – destroy the vulnerable; but no one seems to value the sportsmanship.
There are some promises that were made by the government to its loyal supporters that were never kept. No explanations were given; no apologies were made. This built resentment and disillusionment. Such persons became undecided whether they should vote. The last minute scramble by the ruling party to complete the many projects that had been pending for quite a while came over as a form of bribery.
Finally, we cannot discard the gullibility of the ordinary man on the street and the tendency of people to think the worst of someone, rather than the best. The Opposition was able to manipulate quite a large number of the electorate into believing what was said and this set the stage for a swing in the perception of people of the current government.
Next week: The Elections