OUR CARIBBEAN: PM Gonsalves on another victory road
TODAY, as voters of St Vincent and the Grenadines trek to polling booths to choose a new government in Kingstown, there remain sharply contrasting predictions on the official outcome expected by midnight.
As far as the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Mr Arnhim Eustace is concerned, the electorate of that small island state – famous for its bananas and as a popular tourism resort – is simply anxious to end Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ successive five-year terms in government that started in 2001.
However, the charismatic Gonsalves, whose long years of openly embracing Marxist ideology with a blend of fundamentalist Christianity, has often earned him the sobriquet of an “Anancy” politician, has been campaigning with the unmistakable confidence of a popular political leader and perceived stout Caribbean integrationist.
He has been mocking what he views as “bitter, divisive politics” of his more diehard opponents who have been shouting their “no victory this time” slogan. A robust “no-more term” for Gonsalves has also been declared by the NDP’s leader, an economist by profession and a former leading official of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank.
Ironically, as gathered from my latest assessment over this past weekend, Dr Gonsalves’ comparatively most influential and careful backer for securing electoral victory today, happens to be Sir James Mitchell.
Yes, surprising as it may be for some, I am referring to the former multiple-term prime minister and founder-leader of the NDP. It was the same Sir James who had made the historic decision to quit the NDP and entrust its leadership to Mr Eustace. Well, as we are so often reminded, “in party politics all things are possible”.
But Sir James’ passing of the leadership baton to Eustace did not make a difference to the subsequent lacklustre leadership provided by him, as claimed by detractors. According to Eustace, based on the results of a survey undertaken by his NDP, Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) could well secure merely four of the 15 parliamentary constituencies at stake. He is quite likely to regret having made such an unqualified prediction as he settles down to facing the “political blues” for Christmas.
In the meanwhile, as we await the official outcome of the today’s elections, some thought should also be given to the belligerent anti-Mia Mottley forces within and outside the Barbados Labour Party, to cease offering their flow of “mumbo jumbo” politics emanating supposedly as advice from good-natured, “friendly comrades” to what still clearly remains a viable alternative government.