November 23, 2010
Countdown to nomination day


This Friday, November 26, the second major step in the process of electing a new government for St.Vincent and the Grenadines will be taken, with the nomination of candidates to contest the General Elections, scheduled for December 13.{{more}}

The Unity Labour Party (ULP), which has held office since 2001, and the New Democratic Party (NDP), in opposition during that same period, are both expected to field a full slate of candidates for the 15 constituencies. Speculation is rife as to how many candidates the Green Party will be able to muster. No independents are expected to be nominated, consolidating a trend towards the entrenchment of two-party politics in our country.

The formal nomination of the candidates will complete the exercise in the selection of persons offered to the electorate as possible Parliamentary Representatives. For both major parties, that exercise began at constituency party group level, before ratification by the national leadership. Both parties are to be complimented for carrying out this practice of intra-party democracy. In the past, selection of candidates was the fiefdom of the top leadership, sometimes the sole prerogative of the Leader, so it is heartening to see progress on this front.

That is not to say that there were not problems experienced in observing this act of participatory democracy. The very same openness sometimes resulted in bitterness, as those whose ambitions were thwarted did not always accept the will of the majority, and as we are wont to do in general elections, cry foul. Yet overall, it is a development to be encouraged, as it gives those at the base level of the party an opportunity to have a say in who should represent them in Parliament. It provides a base on which greater inner-party democracy can be strengthened.

As is to be expected, there will be one or two casualties in the process; touted candidates who for one reason or another have had to drop out of the race. Each of the parties will no doubt attempt to pounce on such developments to score political mileage, but by and large, the fortunes of neither party will be significantly affected by minor changes to the slate of candidates.

The formal nomination will mark the intensification of the campaign as the parties hit the home stretch. Launching of the candidates will follow, leading up to the mass meetings at which the respective manifestos will be brought to public light. Since the candidates are already generally known, the launching of the manifestos is expected to be the high point of the campaigns. This is a crucial time for St.Vincent and the Grenadines and the policy and programmatic proposals of the parties ought to be of major concern to all Vincentians. Regrettably, the time between any manifesto launch is too short to enable comprehensive scrutiny of the proposals contained therein, but one looks forward to national debate on the contents.

In recent elections, some candidates have even introduced the practice of Constituency manifestos. As long as these are consistent with the overarching structure and thrust of the party’s national Manifesto, this is another positive development, permitting voters in those constituencies to be able to differentiate between the plans of the aspiring candidates at constituency level. So, in spite of continuing negative trends in our overall body politic, there are still positive emerging elements. We must be able to identify these and build on them to strengthen our own democratic governance.