March 5, 2010
NDP rejects change in number of seats

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is remaining resolute on a decision to reject a Bill to change the number of constituencies from 15 to 17.{{more}}

“The people of this country rejected the proposal, but the Prime Minister has some other ideas,” Arnhim Eustace, Leader of the Opposition, said at a meeting on Wednesday night held at the Party’s Democrat House headquarters at Beachmont.

“He is taking it to Parliament. Why take it to Parliament? Does he think it will give him the next elections?” Eustace questioned.

“Think again, Prime Minister, think again.”

Chairman of the NDP Linton Lewis said in his address the Party intends on remaining resolute with the decision to reject the Bill.

According to Lewis, the Prime Minister’s argument for wanting the change is centered on the issue of density of the existing constituencies.

However, the NDP’s chairman contended that according to law, when determining the number of persons who should be in each constituency, caution should be given to ensure that these numbers are not disproportionate.

Furthermore, Lewis said that due to geographical problems, the numbers tend to vary.

For example, according to Lewis, the number of persons living in the constituencies from East St George to South Leeward averaged 7680,

East St George had 644 more persons than the average and South Leeward had 57 more. However, West Kingstown had 320 below the average.

“Therefore, the rationale for increasing constituencies by two between East St George and South Leeward was unfounded,” Lewis contended.

In the same way, he reasoned that the rural communities of both North Windward and Leeward numbered 6,180 and 5,807, respectively.

The constituencies starting from North Central Windward extending down to Marriaqua averaged over 6,000 persons.

Lewis further stated that as the law points out regard must be given to the census when considering a revision in constituency boundaries.

The last one was conducted in 2001 with the next scheduled for 2011, and according to Lewis, the PM could have waited until then to discuss the issue.

“What, therefore, is the reason?” he questioned.

The last constituency review took place in1986 and two additional constituencies were created; Central Kingstown being one and the other Southern Grenadines.

Lewis went in his presentation accused the government of gerrymandering the boundaries to influence the outcome of the elections.

The opposition was expected to lead a protest action against the proposed Bill which was debated in the House yesterday.