Elections Home Stretch

IT’S been the shortest general election campaign ever—from announcement of date to polling day. It started off peaceful and almost incident-free, but it is ending, regrettably, on a rather unpleasant note.

We have witnessed a range of dirty tricks over the past few days by players and their supporters in this election campaign, overshadowing the substance that we hoped would have generated discussion of the very serious matters confronting the country and ideas as to how they would be resolved.

In the last few days, there has hardly been a moment when there was not an announcement from one of the parties about mudslinging, some of which has been met with denials and threats of legal action. It is shameful the depths some have gone to.

There is a lot at stake for both major parties in Monday’s election, but there may be more at stake for the people of this country who want to see honest, committed and productive government working in their interest and in the interest of their country, at all times.

It’s also been a week of conflicting opinion polls on the elections, adding to the suspense and intrigue that attends the campaign. We will not pass judgment on either pollster, except to say that pretty soon, we will all know who has credibility and who has not.

We repeat that after these elections, regardless who wins, it cannot be business as usual. There are too many concerns facing our country that we should allow ourselves anymore, to settle for the lethargy of recent years. We either begin to get a move on after Monday or we continue to wither and die collectively. Election manifestoes are out—five and four days before the day of decision—and one wonders whether the voters are satisfied that these documents, or one or the other, hold out any hope for the future.

Against the backdrop of the economic and social problems that have been piling up over the years, under governments of both of the main parties, we are now at the crossroads where we need, bold, imaginative and purposeful government, unlike anything that we have had before. There is a lot of what we have done in the past that needs to change and there is more of what we have not done that needs to be tried and implemented. We need a government with energy and ideas to take the country forward.

We are excited about the future prospects based on the promises and pledges that we have heard from the parties in recent days. How realistic are some of them is the question voters must ask themselves, considering that we have had pie in the sky before, promises made that remain unfulfilled. But we sense a buzz among the voters as well, contributing to an expectation that our political leaders and their parties are seized with the urgency of the moment. We hope we are not being deceived.

On another note, we welcome and share the concern of the business community expressed this week, about the absence of any announcement of international observers coming to oversee the elections. Given recent complaints in Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis and just recently, St Vincent and the Grenadines, about the fairness of elections held in these territories—opposition agitation is still ongoing in the last named—we would have thought that everything would be done to ensure the integrity of Monday’s poll. For the sake of our country we hope there will be some movement in this direction over the weekend.

So we are on the home stretch. It’s been a short journey but we believe that many are beginning to breathe a sigh of relief that it will soon be over.

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