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November 27, 2009
PM: ULP humbly accepts the people’s verdict

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has rejected the claim that Wednesday’s referendum was on him and his Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration.{{more}}

This opinion was put forward by critics in the aftermath of vote that could have altered the present constitution.

“Naarrr! That’s what you call an instant and faulty analysis. Some of them… don’t even look at the extent of the voter turnout — what happened in each constituency as to what is the traditional turnout,” said Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister told SEARCHLIGHT in an exclusive interview last Thursday morning that the ULP will be in fine shape by the next General Elections, constitutionally due by March 2011. He said the government intends to lift its performance and the party will be ready.

Gonsalves said at that stage there will be a whole range of issues to decide upon other than the Constitution.

“It’s not the broad strategic policies the referendum was taken on. It was taken on a constitution and against the backdrop as I have said of people having some grievances against the Government and against the representatives,” he added.

When asked if his administration would be able to address these concerns before the next national poll the Prime Minister said: “You can’t address all grievances because human beings will always have grievances.”

Asked whether there would be snap elections, he said he plans to keep that a secret dear to his heart.

The Prime Minister said from here on, the Government has to sharpen its position, especially its tactics.

He explained that normally, in the country, he suspects that there are between 65,000 and 70,000 persons available to vote. However, from his standpoint, a relatively small number of persons went out to vote.

Gonsalves confirmed that no new constitution proposals would be brought to Vincentians before the next General Elections.

“That is unlikely to happen before the next General Elections. The Government has a mandate to run up to the end of March 2011,” he said, adding that the electorate had spoken and it is clear that a lot of traditional ULP supporters did not vote.

He said last elections the New Democratic Party (NDP) received about 26,000 votes and this time around the NO Vote campaign which they backed received just about 3,000 votes more.

“It was not a huge number whereas we saw a drop in the voter turnout by over 7, 000. Fifty-eight thousand plus voted last time and just over 51,000 voted this time.”

During the interview the Prime Minister congratulated the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for going about in a “democratic, peaceful, and dignified manner to make a judgment yesterday on what has been a noble enterprise”.

“I want to congratulate the No Campaign for bringing out more persons to say No, but one has to bear in mind the voter turnout was considerably less than the 2005 General Elections,” Gonsalves said.

He added that it is clear that those who voted No and those who did not vote either didn’t like the constitution, or did not fully comprehend it, or were impacted “by a number of scaremongering tactics by the No Campaign”.

The Prime Minister suggested that this came against a backdrop of people having grievances against the government and against representatives.

So for the time being, on the matter of constitutional reform, the people have said ‘Listen, just put the brakes on that for a while … We don’t want that,” Gonsalves said, adding that as a democracy the verdict has to be accepted.