Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feature: Grenadians ready to toss out PM Tillman Thomas and bring back Keith Mitchell

It looks like Grenada is about to change course and toss out Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and his National Democractic Congress (NDC) in the general election on Tuesday and hand back the administration of the island to Keith Mitchell and his New National party (NNP).

Thomas became prime minister following the 2008 general election in which the NDC won 11 of the 15 seats in the national parliament with 51 per cent of the popular vote.

National Democratic Congress29,00750.97+5.411+4
New National Party27,18947.77–0.24–4
Labour Platform4780.84–2.4±0
Good Old Democratic Party30.01
Invalid votes2220.39
Total (turnout 80.3%)56,911100.015
Registered voters70,869

Mitchell had a bare majority of one in the 2003 parliament and Grenadians had become weary of him. So they made a change that they thought would redefine the politics of the island and, hopefully, usher in a new era.
Keith Mitchell addresses a huge NNP rally
However, Thomas seemed unprepared and unable to meet the people's expectation and after five years people might be ready to bring Mitchell back. It's not because they love the former prime minister but more because they see the incumbent as having failed in every respect.

Marcia Braveboy, who is a Grenadian journalist working in Trinidad, spoke with one of her colleagues in St George's about what might happen Tuesday when the votes are counted.

Both sides held rallies over the weekend and each of the two major parties is saying it will win. Journalist Callistra Fraser told Marcia it looks like Mitchell's time has come - again.

Marcia: Hey Callistra what’s up? What’s happening in Grenada, who do you think will win and why?

Callistra: The NNP is the front runner, based both on two recent polls, one published and one not, both of which show and 11 and 6 percent swing in favor of the NNP. The NNP has also attracted much larger crowds than the incumbent, filling the old airstrip at Pearls to almost capacity. The NNPs comeback is driven by a number of factors, the biggest being their perceived non-performance on economic matters. Unemployment has doubled to 47% on their watch and the debt has also increased.

The NDC has lost private sector confidence and support and it is widely believed they won't support the incumbent.

The biggest factor is that an estimated 15, 000 people are out of work and the NDCs path to economic development has not worked.

The split of the party has also had an impact. It's likely that a section of the NDC base will either stay home or vote for the opposition. The Peter David votes, for instance are big in play in the Town of St George. Many of David's supporters are openly supporting the NNP candidate.

Q. From the picture you've painted, I have to ask, why is retaining the Government such an uphill task for the Tillman Administration? What are the issues driving the nation to as it were, uncloak Tillman Thomas and probably place him on the shameful record of one term Prime Ministers past?

A. The economy is the big issue in the election. Also the NDC campaigned and won on issues of integrity and anti-corruption and there has been the specter of impropriety and a lack of transparency that has disappointed some people. They were very big on the Integrity in Public Life legislation and they passed it but no effort was made to make it function.

Q. What about unemployment on the island, is that an issue, if so how major?

A. Government put the unemployment rate at 43%, independent economists put it at 47%. The NDC is losing the election because there are no jobs and they have done very little to try to stimulate the economy so people could get back to work.

Q. Now it looks like Grenadians are between a rock and hard place, with many people not wanting a Keith Mitchell leadership to return to the chair of Prime Minister and many wanting Tillman Thomas to go! Your thoughts, on what you think the people will decide in this predicament and why?

A. I believe the Grenadian people understand what's at stake on February 19th and will choose based on the reality of the economic situation.

Q. What are the must win constituencies for the NDC that will ensure the party’s re-election and similarly, the NNP in order to ensure them a return to Government?

A. NDC has mounted an aggressive campaign in St Andrew. Winning all four constituencies in the parish is key if they are to even imagine a victory. If they are able to pick up both St Patrick West and East they could see a clear path to victory. The NNP looking good in three of the St Andrew seats, St. Mark and North West are strongholds.

Marcia also spoke with a "citizen analyst" who asked to remain anonymous. She told JYOTI the musician and psychologist by training said he is turned off by the election.

NNP rally
This is how he described the campaign:

“It is like a contest between funeral goers and movie goers - more precisely, people going to a Jack Palance "dracula" flick. NDC, for all intents and presences, is dead. (Grandma say don't say anything bad about the dead). 

"And NNP has managed to become the undead (as you know from vampire narrative, undead is not the same as being alive) that has been invoked by NDC itself. I want to see what the NNP proposed reincarnation looks like. It is interesting to see how these things are constructed (or, rather, fabricated)”.
NDC motorcade
According to Marcia, "This assertion is based on the tone of the leadership styles of both parties, Tillman Thomas seen as temperate and lukewarm, while Keith Mitchell comes across as dynamo and forceful. An advantage that could very well propel the Opposition Leader to victory."

With files from Marcia Braveboy. Photos by WEE FM journalist, Mikey Hutchinson


Political Feature: PM Tillman Thomas facing uphill struggle to win re-election in Grenada election

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai