Our Readers' Opinions
September 11, 2015
A wind of change blowing in the Caribbean?

EDITOR: A wind of change seems to be blowing in the Caribbean, as the electorates are getting rid of governments which, in their view, do not serve them in the best interest.{{more}}

Last Monday, Trinidadians booted out Kamla Persad Bissessar’s UNC/coalition government and replaced it with the old age PNM, which is now led by Dr Keith Rowley, who replaced the veteran Patrick Manning.

The defeat did not come as a surprise because Kamla was losing grip – having failed to hold together the coalition parties – mainly the Congress of the People (COP) and perhaps because of her high-handed attitude in firing ministers and other lawmakers. Persad Bissessar was the first female Prime Minister of the twin island republic. Her party lost 23-18.

The change of government came less than four months after Guyanese voters voted out the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) from office after 23 years, replacing it with a coalition government, APNU/AFC – combination of PNC, WPA, and AFC, headed by David Granger, a former colonel of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). Over in Antigua and Barbuda the voters kicked out Baldwin Spencer’s UPP, replacing it with the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) under the new leadership of Gaston Browne.

Last February, Denzil Douglas, who was in power for 20 years, was also kicked out of office. He was replaced by Timothy Harris, leader of the coalition party called People’s Labour Party (PLP). This means that there are four new faces as heads of government in Harris (St Kitts/Nevis) Browne (Antigua and Barbuda), Granger (Guyana) and now Rowley (Trinidad and Tobago), who is the new leader of the PNM.

All eyes are now on St Vincent and the Grenadines, which is the next Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to hold general elections, which are constitutionally due before the end of March next year; but I anticipate it will take place before Christmas. Ralph Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) has been in power for 15 years and is seeking an unprecedented fourth term. While a large number of the electorate are clamouring for a change, some are not too happy that the Leader of the Opposition NDP, Arnhim Eustace, is capable of leading the country. He failed to hold on to power when he was hand-picked by the then leader of the NDP to take over from him. He only served five months as Prime Minister after a snap election was called.

Nevertheless, it is anticipated that the next elections will be keenly contested, since the ULP only has a one-seat majority, 8-7, and in the previous administration, Gonsalves enjoyed a 12-3 majority.

Oscar Ramjeet