By Lloyd Noel
The majority of the registered voters in our troubled state spoke very decisively on Tuesday 19th February, when they returned the New National Party (NNP) and Dr Keith Mitchell back into control of the nation’s affairs, with a whitewash victory at the polls.
But for one reason or another, or a combination of reasons, the number of voters for the two major parties, and the few individuals who contested island-wide, showed that over 10,000 registered voters did not vote.
Whatever the reason or reasons for those stay-away citizens’ decisions for not voting, they alone know them and will have to live with them, as the nation and our people struggle through the coming years.
Whether the non-voters’ decisions would have made any significant difference to the results, no one knows, but it leaves the result open to some speculation.
And of much greater concern is the fact that there is no one in the lower house of Parliament to raise any issue on behalf of the voters who voted for the NDC; whether one of the fifteen “green” winners would jump off the ship of state to become a lone opposition operator, only time and the changing circumstances would determine in the weeks and months ahead.
I must be candid and admit that I have already heard of one winner, who is not on the front-line pages of the leader of the pack – so who knows, time and the wind of change may very well come to the rescue of the parliamentary stalemate.
Strangely enough, this is the second time we have had a clean-sweep of all the seats in the Lower House of Parliament, and in both cases in 1999 and 2013 Dr Keith Mitchell and his NNP have been the outright winners.
I would certainly hope that, because of this unique state of affairs, the goodly Doctor would fully appreciate the unusual circumstances, and the fact that he must be the sole cause or reason for the level of such total support, and in the upcoming months and years adopts a different approach to the way he leads and manages his team in government, and treats and relates to the people as a whole in the exercise of his extensive powers.
We heard of all the accusations and complaints made against him in the years leading up to the 2008 Elections and there was no doubt that the unholy alliance that was formed to run against his team in that election, and won convincingly at the polls, did so based on those allegations and complaints.
But right up to the recent campaign, which he won so convincingly, not one concrete action was forthcoming against him, and the people by their island-wide approval have demonstrated that they have dismissed the changes.
So now that the people have spoken very loudly and clearly, by their unanimous approval of all his candidates, and by more than 10,000 votes in that landslide victory on February 19, those who were making all the complaints and allegations will just have to let go and keep on monitoring the happenings in the months and years ahead.
The victorious leader and his winning team should not take or see this victory as an unbridled opportunity to just do as they very well please, because there is no one in the Lower House of Parliament to question their actions and omissions.
As far as the upper House of Parliament, or the Senate as it is described in our Constitution, the prime minister has the right to appoint seven senators, and the opposition leader normally appoints three senators – but in the absence of any opposition, I would imagine the governor general can still hold discussions with the loser’s leader, and the governor general can appoint three senators who are known NDC members.
The other three senators to complete the Upper House of 13 members are normally appointed after discussions between the governor general and the prime minister, to decide on representatives from the business and wider community to bring some balance to the senate of 13 seats.
So that, if this procedure is followed, in the unusual circumstances now existing, the government would still have its majority in both houses of Parliament, to conduct the nation’s business as the winning party in control.
And although the NDC is not in Parliament as the official opposition, its officials would still have some responsibility to overlook the happenings as they occur, and let their voices be heard.
After the losing party has conducted its own post-mortem, as it were, to assess where it went wrong and chart a course for the future – as well as to decide who remains in what position in the party structure – they will still be expected to let their voices be heard on national issues, in the interest of the people who voted for them.
As for the winning party now in control of the government, with no official opposition in our parliament, all eyes will be on them, as they go about conducting the nation’s business in the upcoming months and years down the road.
It is to be expected, that the party’s members and close associates will be first in line for special favours and considerations – but those in control must never forget, that Grenadians as a whole have the right to enjoy their constitutional rights and freedoms and the protection of the law.
We have gone through much more than our fair share of denials of basic rights over the years, and now that the huge majority of our people have again placed their trust and confidence in Dr Keith Mitchell as the prime minister and leader of his party and government of our tri-island state, I very deeply hope and sincerely expect him to show, that he has risen over and above the campaign rhetoric and rallies piccong, and ready to display that level of maturity and statesmanship, in keeping with the distinguished stature he has now attained, of being prime minister for over 18 years by virtue of the latest victory.
Our people deserve a break from the chaos and rat-race they have been forced to endure for all those years, and who better to give them that break than our longest serving designated prime minister.
Whatever are the plans and policies of the newly elected government for the next five years, only time and the unfolding events for the upcoming years will determine in due course.
As for the convenient get-together of those power-seekers who managed to hoodwink the electorate in 2008 and obtained control of the reins of power, which they made a mockery of in the past four years, also time and whatever they resort to in the coming months will tell.
But the new controllers and the prime minister in particular can now be as magnanimous as he likes, and set our people and tri-island state on a brand new pathway towards a very forgiving and enlightened beginning.
Whether the new controllers of the reins of power will see it fitting to adopt that strategy, only time will tell as the months and years roll on.
But there can be no doubt that the situation as now obtains presents a whole lot of opportunities to really chart a new course for the development of our people and tri-island state in the years ahead.
I can only wish all the winners and the team as a whole the very best in their endeavours to bring relief and a higher standard of living opportunities to all our people.