Polls closed in Grenada
Too close to call. Apparently, it is not business as usual in predicting the outcome of today’s general election in Grenada. Local analysts are left perplexed by the large turnout of crowds at the political meetings of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by Tillman Thomas and the Opposition New National Party (NNP) led by Dr Keith Mitchell. At least two polls placed the opposition NNP ahead of the incumbent. Those polls were done late-mid January and may not be a factor at this stage in the race. The poll conducted by the Barbados based Caribbean Development Research Services Incorporated (CADRES) between January 18 and 21 predicts the NNP will win convincingly with an 11 per cent swing in its favour. Economist Dr Wayne Sandiford predicted the opposition NNP will win nine of the 15 seats. Some analysts view Dr Sandiford’s prediction as flawed as it was based on his assumption that the NDC lost too much support since it took office in 2008. The St. George’s University Professor said his findings were based on statistical analysis and data, projecting that a three per cent swing to the NNP could win them nine seats while a five per cent swing away from the NDC will mean game over. Other well known analysts on the island remain unsure as to how Grenadians will vote today; an uncertainty based on the NDC making a strong comeback in the last two weeks of the campaign.
The apparent swing to the NDC could be the result of different factors affecting both campaigns. The NDC campaign reminded Grenadians of the issues that plagued the island under the Keith Mitchell Administration: the wave of victimisation that divided the people; the shelter that was provided for questionable off-shore brokers like Victor Kozeny and Van Brink, both of whom were indicted in the United States for fraud; the censoring of media reports that saw information being disseminated in favour of Keith Mitchell and the NNP and even jailing journalists for perceived anti Keith Mitchell or NNP reports. These and many other issues rocked the NNP campaign, and created a groundswell of support for the NDC. However, the incumbent NDC is itself plagued with its own issues, like expulsions and resignations of over ten of its members including MPs and other disciples over the last four years. This could make it very difficult for the Tillman Thomas led NDC to retain political office. Among the issues working against the NDC are the economy and high unemployment. Economists on the island have put the unemployment rate at a startling 47 per cent, while private sector support for the Government has declined to detrimental levels.
Then there is the potential fallout from dissident MPs like Glennis Roberts and Peter David who is very popular in the Town of St George and whose supporters are threatening to vote for the Opposition NNP, some planning on not voting at all. Roberts who is very popular and well loved, leads the newly formed political party National United Front (NUF). She is likely to effectively split the votes and cost the NDC the St George South seat. The NDC which campaigned on the grounds of integrity and anti-corruption was also tainted as being corrupt after some of its MPs were accused of accepting bribes. Both parties are gripped with issues that are unappealing to the masses. However both sides have had large crowds following their respective campaigns, a real factor that has fogged up the political landscape, leaving the best of minds to wonder who the Grenadian people will chose to govern the country for the next five years.