by Caribupdate Weekly
As the nation inches closer to another general election, the 2 major political parties both have endorsed a full slate of 15 candidates, who are more than likely to contest the polls for the ruling New National Party (NNP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The NNP and NDC are the only parties to have formed the government in the post-revolution era of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Every election is important; important for the nation and crucial to the parties and their individual candidates.
In the case of the next general election, which is due to be called between now and the middle of next year, much is at stake for the party leaders, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, and NDC boss V Nazim Burke.
Mitchell’s NNP has twice won 15-0 election clean sweeps. Some believe he can achieve a 3rd complete annihilation of the NDC. Such a victory would be unprecedented and historical, not just locally but also regionally and internationally.
The prime minister, ever since the party’s win of 2013, has made it clear that as he winds down his political career, he’s determined to unite the nation, stabilise the state of the economy and put the country on a sound economic and social footing. He believes he has made solid progress in his mission, as noted in his national address of last week.
“We have repeatedly spoken about the many successes of this administration, but we know that there are still many economic challenges to confront,’’ Prime Minister Mitchell said. “In these next few years,’’ he promised, “we will bring unemployment down to the lowest levels we have seen since our independence; we will ensure that Grenada has the lowest rate of poverty in the Caribbean; we will introduce healthcare for all and reintroduce public pensions.’’
Burke entered the last general election after having served 4 years as Minister of Finance in the NDC administration of Tillman Thomas. Burke, seeking re-election in St George’s North East, was soundly defeated in 2013 by NNP’s Tobias Clement.
After Thomas resigned as NDC leader, Burke fulfilled his ambition of becoming head of the party. Since then, he has cleverly surrounded himself on the NDC executive with people who are absolutely loyal to him. But there are many — inside the party and in the general population — who have questioned his leadership style, and have raised doubts about his ability to engineer an NDC election victory.
Burke’s challenge, going forward, is 2-fold: he must win his seat; and he also must lead the NDC to victory. Anything less could spell trouble for him. His defeat and a party loss are sure to trigger a challenge to oust him as NDC leader.
Much attention also is expected to be focused on those candidates, who are likely to be contesting the polls for the 1st time. Among the likely candidates and election newcomers are NDC’s Ray Roberts, Tevin Andrew and Claudette Joseph; and NNP’s Pamela Moses, Kate Lewis and Kindra Maturine-Stewart. We also welcome to the political frayCecilia Ann John and Phillip Alexander.
Grenadians often talk of introducing a new kind of politics, and of affording an opportunity for more women and youth to participate in the electoral process. The upcoming polls are an opportunity for new candidates to do all of those things and more.
It is refreshing to see that the façade of political neutrality and political independence has now been shed by caretakers such as Roberts and Joseph.
Roberts, while serving as Labour Representative in the Senate, often was accused of toeing the line of the NDC and of articulating the party’s talking points. He has resigned as senator and now is fulltime into politics, as an open and unabashed NDCite. He’s considered 1 of the party’s star candidates and will challenge the NNP’s likely candidate for St George South, Nickolas Steele.
Joseph, who has been involved in NDC’s activities for many years, including party conventions, nonetheless always said publicly in the past that her position on national issues — including her opposition to constitution referendum process — was legal in nature, coming from her background as a lawyer — and not political or representative of the NDC.
Whenever the elections are called, Caribupdate Weekly expects it to be spirited; highly spirited and competitive. We know that much is riding on the election outcome. But, we urge all parties and candidates, to keep the campaigning clean and make it an issues-based campaign, bereft of personal insults, mudslinging, unfounded allegations and prevarications.