St Lucia, Guyana same day poll
By Rickey Singh
Story Created: Nov 9, 2011 at 12:53 AM ECT
Story Updated: Nov 9, 2011 at 12:53 AM ECT
Source - Trinidad Express
WHILE new Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness continues to keep alive speculations of a snap parliamentary poll, possibly before Christmas, the Prime Minister of St Lucia, Stephenson King, announced last Sunday a general election for November 28.
This surprise date means that for the first time in the history of Caricom, two of its 15-member states will be voting for new governments on the same day. President Bharrat Jagdeo had announced on October 9 that Guyanese will be voting for a new government on November 28.
In Guyana the three-way electoral battle for an executive president and 65-member National Assembly will involve the incumbent People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) — which is seeking an unprecedented fifth successive five-year term — a five-month-old coalition of parties known as APNU (A Partnership for National Unity, which is dominated by the old People's National Congress Reform), and the Alliance For Change (AFC), now contesting its second national poll.
Across in St Lucia, the incumbent United Workers Party (UWP), whose founder/leader, Sir John Compton died as Prime Minister shortly after the party defeated the then two-term St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) in December 2006, has been boasting of returning to state power according to its own forecast of securing a majority of the 17 parliamentary seats at stake.
In Guyana, the emergence of APNU marks a significant departure in traditional parliamentary battles between the two dominant mass-based parties (PPP and PNC), and now, in contrast, a virtual 'pick-up side' of small parties dominated by the PNC to constitute APNU. But in St Lucia both the SLP and UWP continue to be the major contenders for state power with the latter under the first-time leadership of Stephenson King.
There are, of course, other significant political differences with the opposition SLP under the leadership of former prime minister Dr Kenny Anthony, favoured by the Voice, the country's oldest newspaper, giving a clear all-round lead for a Labour victor
Prime Minister King has called the November 28 election against a backdrop of controversies involving cabinet ministers and resignations of MPs that have reduced its parliamentary majority from an original 11 to nine, and in the face of widening claims of heavy funding by Taiwan with millions of dollars being spent in constituencies of the UWP through the Taiwanese embassy in Castries.
The SLP is currently revealing on the campaign trail information of monies paid by the Taiwanese embassy and not the government for projects located in constituencies of UWP parliamentarians.
One such parliamentarian to confirm allocations of approximately EC$1 million each by Taiwan for UWP representatives, was Jeannine Compton, daughter of the late Prime Minister John Compton, who quit the UWP and sat as an Independent for the Micoud North constituency for which she is now running as an independent candidate.
Another controversial election campaign issue is focused on the political future of former Housing Minister Richard Frederick who felt compelled to recently resign from cabinet after US authorities revoked both his visitor's and diplomatic visas amid rising speculations of the circumstances that triggered such a sensational development.
When nominations of candidates take place on November 17, a crucial decision for the incumbent UWP would be whether to retain Frederick as its representative for the Central Castries constituency in view of pending concerns over what led to the US intervention to revoke his visas.
There are hot disputes over the state of the national economy, with the government claiming a 4.4 per cent growth rate for 2010 while the opposition points to no more than 1.7 per cent based on normal statistical assessment. The SLP is also placing emphasis on an estimated 24 per cent unemployment with St Lucia having the highest level of youth joblessness in the entire Eastern Caribbean.
In Guyana, where nominations have been closed for all contesting parties, only the governing PPP has so far released its manifesto for the coming poll. Both APNU and AFC, which were expected to have done so this past weekend, are now likely to do so later in the week
A surprising disclosure last week by the PPP was that while APNU and AFC continue to publicly engage in disputing respective claims of popular ground support, they are actually involved in a secret pact to form a coalition government should the PPP/C win the November 28 election.
Both opposition parties had offered no response as of yesterday to the PPP's threat to disclose details of the claimed secret agreement that extends to strategising in the election campaign in a manner that could facilitate the intended post-election coalition government.