ULP needs short campaign – Pollster
September 3, 2010
ULP needs short campaign – Pollster

The Unity Labour Party (ULP) needs a short campaign to win the next General Elections, says Barbadian pollster Peter Wickham.{{more}}

Wickham, Principal Director of CADRES (Caribbean Development Research Services Inc.), a research agency in Barbados that has carried out several polls in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and more recently February and July of this year, said this to SEARCHLIGHT in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, August 24.

“The normal thing is that a government needs the shortest possible campaign; an Opposition usually benefits from a longer campaign. The reasons are a government normally needs as short a campaign as possible, because the longer a government is in office, the less it needs to demonstrate that it has done good and it can rely on its record,” said Wickham.

He added: “A short campaign in my opinion would be in the interest of the Gonsalves’ [ULP] administration and a long campaign would be in the interest of the NDP [New Democratic Party]. Arnhim Eustace [The Leader of the Opposition] has essentially been in campaign mood since the referendum and I think he is well advised to be in the campaign mood, because in a long campaign you put the government under pressure, you highlight their mistakes, and essentially you demonstrate that you are ready.”

“I think whenever PM Gonsalves rings the bell, he should ring it quickly and go to the polls fairly fast. There is really nothing that he really needs time to do,” said Wickham.

Wickham said based on his polls, he is confident the ULP will retain government, but General Elections “will be a struggle. As in the previous years, they were a struggle.”

“I believe that seeing what I am seeing now, I am inclined to think that they will emerge victorious. For two reasons: not only the data, but the fact that they have shown in the past a capacity to manage their support as elections draw near,” said Wickham.

“In July, the polls were really looking at representation; satisfactory representation; Party support; who would you vote for if an election is called tomorrow and satisfactory leadership.

“It is significant that in all instances, people seem very happy with the leader of the ULP. They have issues with the Leader as in the case of every country, but it doesn’t seem as though people would challenge his competence. Those kinds of measurements we thought were significant, that even with all that is being said, the Gonsalves/Eustace comparisons still present Gonsalves as being somebody that seem to be a better leader, more comfortable and more favourable,” said Wickham.

Wickham noted that although the survey favoured Gonsalves, the prime minister still has challenges in terms of his perception.

“But those issues which present Eustace more favourably seem less to be of concern to Vincentians, and they are more concerned about the performance issues. Again, which is consistent with what I see across the Caribbean. People expect that their prime ministers will be prime ministers and not pastors,” said Wickham.

Wickham, however, warned that the ULP can only take “cautious comfort” in the CADRES polls, because it is clear that there needs to be a political battle that has to be waged by the ULP.

He said a political party seeking a third term is always a challenge in the Caribbean.