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The last two innings: final two weeks of campaigning

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In cricketing terms, it can be compared to the two final innings of a Test match which has been keenly contested and which, depending on performance and nerve, can well determine the outcome of the Test.

I refer here to the two last weeks of hectic campaigning, which could have a say in which party emerges victorious, come the night of December 9. It is clear that there are two large blocks of ‘Red’ (ULP), and ‘yellow’ (NDP), but these apparently matched bases, however much they warm the hearts of supporters at mass rallies, cannot, by themselves, ensure victory.{{more}}

So, the ever-present vehicles and loudspeakers, which drive up and down day and night, may well be of nuisance value as far as determining the outcome. Depending on who man those vehicles or what they say on the microphones, there is even the danger that they run the risk of annoying the uncommitted and thus do little to add value. What they do is to keep the spirits of supporters high.

In these days of pre-election polls and pollsters, both the ULP and NDP would no doubt have commissioned their own polls. Whether they share the results honestly with the general public is another matter, for in a society like ours, for a political party to disclose that it is behind in the polls on the eve of elections can only bring about desertions or cause those who have not yet made up their minds to lean towards the party which the polls indicate may win. On election day, however, it is the actual turnout at the polls which is most significant.

The integrity of the electoral system is vital in maintaining post-election stability, so it is a source of concern that despite the best efforts of the supervisor of elections and her staff, there continues to be unwarranted attacks on them, tantamount to questioning either competence or fairness. This is a dangerous road to tread. It is to the credit of the supervisor and staff that they have constantly sought to engage and seek to iron out any anomalies.

I was happy to note a comment from the Electoral Department on the possibilities for the abuse of social media to circumvent election regulations. However, in spite of appeals of the supervisor for persons to use “good sense”, the danger is still present. The consistent misusers and abusers have shown little inkling for “good sense” so far; can we expect them to do so in the heat of battle? Apparently well-learned persons are even quoting the Constitution in a bid to mislead their not-so-discerning supporters.

I am writing this column from abroad on November 25, the International Day Against Violence Against Women. At the same time, I noticed a news report in this newspaper quoting a candidate in the general elections as saying that his party “does not need female candidates” because the majority of women in SVG is in support of it. Has he been rebuked?

Violence against women is manifested in many forms, not just physical and must be roundly exposed and condemned, no matter who the perpetrator. There is a lot of political hypocrisy on both sides of the political divide on this and it needs to be addressed openly and honestly.

But part of the solution lies in the empowerment of women themselves and both parties, in respect of providing female representation at the polls, have failed us so far. Whatever the excuses, they cannot justify that our two major political forces, with over 60 years of political experience between them can only field one female candidate in the 21st century.

Many international and intergovernmental organizations have given guidance and offered support in this regard; to what degree have the parties heeded that advice and tried to make use of that support to strengthen female representation at the elected political level. It is true that it does not necessarily follow that more female Members of Parliament will automatically result in female issues being addressed, but the absence of women, elected by right, not depending on the whim of a political leader, is certainly not the answer either.

We cannot afford to be ducking the issue, neither the parties nor the growing army of educated, conscious and professional women. They also are at fault. It is a big weakness that we carry with us into the next Parliament. Our country needs inclusion and participatory governance if we are to move forward on an irreversible basis.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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