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NNP supporters celebrate

Grenada Elections

Keith Mitchell, leader of the New National Party (NNP), has swept the National Democratic Congress (NDC) from office following 19 February elections in Grenada.

The NNP won all 15 constituencies including St. Patrick’s East, where former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas was the incumbent; and St George North East, where the then Finance Minister and deputy NDC leader, Nazim Burke, was seeking a third consecutive parliamentary term. Significantly both lost to political newcomers. This is the second time that Mitchell has stressed the MDC out of office, the first being in 2008.

Despite its tiny electorate Grenada continues to play a significant role in the ideological across for the region following the American invasion of that country in 1983 and their introduction of ideologically driven free market policies.

Over 31,000 Grenadians (66% of the register) voted for the NNP. The NDC won only 20,326 (39% of the votes cast and 33% of registered voters). This was a decline from the 29,000 votes (51%) in 2008, a loss of 8,681 votes representing a swing from the NDC of 10,499 votes (36%). It is estimated that 10,000 registered voters did not bother to vote and some 5,000 to 8,000 eligible persons did not register.

Such was the disappointment with the NDC that the NNP not only maintained its base but gained 3,825 votes, moving from 29,189 in 2008 to 31,014 today, winning 59.6% of the votes cast. This represents a swing of 14.1% towards the NNP, greater even than the11% swing predicted by many regional pollsters

Immediately following the elections there was bitter condemnation of the tenure of Thomas and his team, which were seen as ineffective, incompetent and divisive. The focus of much of this anger was directed towards Nazim Burke, former Finance Minister, and allegedly a former protégé of Bernard Coard, one of the leaders of the Grenada Revolution.

One NDC minister who was fired by Thomas, senator Arley Gill, said the former Prime Minister has “reaped the harvest that he himself cultivated’’ by promoting division, and playing favouritism within the party and government.

“The leader treated some members of his cabinet better than others; and took sides rather than standing up and leading with impartiality.” He went on to say, “I am extremely happy that Nazim Burke lost his St. George North East seat,’’

Lawyer Jerry Edwin said of Thomas that he “is a minor mind who does not have the goods to lead a party, much less a government and country. That the NDC election manifesto is inundated solely with pictures of that pea-brained character, demonstrates that the party did not mature in 4.5 years to rouse the people with the collective ability of its team,’’

“Relying on a man who is incapable of building consensus, repairing relationships, building bridges, focusing policies, or charting a development agenda, implicates impotence.’’

Whilst it may be too early to work out the direction Mitchell will take Grenada, many believe that his government will revert to its former methods, namely that of shady dealings and murky financial dealings with overseas characters.

Shortly before the election a document was circulated alleging Mitchell’s involvement with Russians who have questionable connections. The document also questioned Mitchell’s probity and his plans to introduce casino gambling and other such activities into Grenada. If this was an attempt to gain support for the MDC is failed spectacularly. These rumours were extensively circulated prior to 2008, believed to have been propagated by NDC members.

Some observers saw this as a crude attempt by the NDC to sway their votes. In their 4½ years in office the NDC did nothing to pursue these allegations, even though this appeared to have been their only consistent policy for 10 years prior to 2008

Currently there are considerable fears in Grenada that Mitchell will continue with his policy of selling significant Grenadian industry and property to foreign investors, to the detriment of local Grenadians. Numerous figures, including leading trade unionists is such as Chester Humphrey, have urged Mitchell to follow a path of unity and conciliation. Only time will tell us what he will do.