OUR CARIBBEAN: Snap polls in ‘uncertainties’ for next year
The tumultuous international economic and political developments and enormously destructive natural disasters across continents may have influenced the BBC in identifying 2011 as “the year when everything changed”.
Well, in political terms these would certainly include the series of revolutionary changes from once tyrannical regimes in the Middle East and North Africa; the ongoing bloodbaths in Afghanistan and Iraq (examples of failed USA/ NATO military strategies); and the execution of Osama bin Laden, as ordered by President Barack Obama.
And, of course, there remain the Eurozone’s spreading economic woes that have raised the spectre of cancellation of the euro as a common currency, with all the feared implications for European Union unity.
Given the reality of global interdependence of nations, our comparatively small Caribbean region, viewed as a microcosm of the world’s peoples and cultures, faces the challenge of monitoring the rapidly changing international environment in the ongoing quest for survival with, hopefully, the minimum of social and economic dislocations.
For this region, which had the misfortune to also cope in 2011 with recurring drugs-related murders and various forms of criminal violence; growing incidence of sexual molestation of children; and rising youth unemployment and immorality, 2012 could well be the year of a series of snap parliamentary elections between the scheduled presidential polls in the United States and Venezuela.
Of immediate interest would be not if, but when in 2012 Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will call a snap general election, consistent with his intention to firmly stamp his leadership style and knowing that to delay doing so could only compound the internal political problems facing the incumbent Democratic Labour Party.
No need to now engage in speculations of the likely outcome of a snap parliamentary poll, as the Opposition Barbados Labour Party would also be aware of the severe social and economic challenges ahead for the nation, apart from having to stressfully manage its own internal political problems.
New parliamentary elections are scheduled in The Bahamas in May next year, but the possibility of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham calling an early poll should not be ruled out.
And there are also speculations of a snap general election in Antigua.
There is, however, no need to speculate whether presidential elections will take place next year in two nations of much international interest and with which we have significant trade and economic relations – the United States and Venezuela. These are scheduled, respectively, for October 7 and November 6.
Meanwhile, Guyana, continues its experiment with a first-time minority government – that draws much comfort from an executive president, well endowed with constitutional powers – while the combined opposition parties, with a majority of one in the 65-member National Assembly, are jostling to find agreement on the choice of Speaker for the new parliament, scheduled to have its ceremonial opening next month.