SVG Elections – A Grassroots Analysis
Just before I begin to analyze the election process, I crave your indulgence to mention a few more things that occurred in the run up to elections. It was alleged that both parties were giving money to the indigent in order to “buy” their votes.
Some persons alleged that the NDP was on the ground sharing money in the North Windward area. On the other hand, persons claim the ULP party was sharing out money in the North Leeward. If both claims are true, we are setting a dangerous precedent to the Vincentian public that the finer qualities in life such as self-respect, loyalty and belief in things that are right and good can be easily dismissed once money is involved.
The media is the strongest weapon against any government; it can destroy credibility and subtly put doubts in the minds of the viewers or listeners. The SVG TV Broadcasting station must take credit for their subtle support of the NDP … their 10 or more minutes of nightly highlights of the NDP candidates was rather crafty. So … the election bell was rung, and like racehorses the political candidates were out of their blocks and the accusations and pulling down began followed by the outrageous promises. I was somewhat disappointed that both parties did not do justice to the opportunities afforded them to engage the communities in dialogue and speak to issues that troubled them rather than making airy promises.
If we were to believe the NDP rhetoric, Vincentians would be walking on streets of gold when they got into power. All societal ills would miraculously disappear, twenty thousand jobs would appear instantly and we would live happily ever after. Democracy would be restored (I guess we have been living in a Communist society) and people would no longer be afraid of speaking their minds (They were speaking someone else’s mind on the radio stations). The ULP was quite flippant (dismissive) at their rallies. They trotted out all that they had done – overusing the Education revolution and the construction of the airport. No attempt was made to address some of the claims made by the NDP; no attempt was made to calm the fears generated by the NDP campaign and no attempt was made engage the public in fruitful discussion as to where the country would be heading if they were to win back the government.
Two nights before the elections, massive rallies were held by both parties. Both parties felt a sense of victory based on the side of the crowds. The PM even went as far as to call out all the constituencies that the ULP would win. Similarly, the NDP candidates began to call Dr Friday, the Honorable Prime Minister of SVG. While some persons may say that any leader must be positive in the thinking, I would like to say that leaders must also be grounded in reality and learn to read the people right. There were persons who felt disillusioned by both parties … there were still burning issues that had not been addressed.
On Election Day the NDP were over-vigilant. One of the NDP candidates, who is regarded as an esteemed lawyer, by some, had already laid the groundwork of mistrust that the elections would be rigged; the ruling party would cheat and if the ruling party won the results would not be a fair representation of the people. The electoral supervisors at many polling stations had to be escorted home by policemen as the NDP supporters made dire threats. Then everyone sat down to await the results. Indeed the results show that there was a swing in favour of the NDP. This is not surprising. From my perspective, this is the most intense campaign that the NDP has ever run. Congratulations must be extended to Mrs Shevern Lewis-John and Ms Velox for their performance, given that these were first time contenders on the NDP side. Similarly, congratulations are extended to Ms Mineva Glasgow and Mr Orando Brewster, first time contenders of the ULP. The ULP limped to victory, having secured another term in office. But there were valuable lessons to be learned from both sides.