The die has been cast, the bell has rung. The horses are lining up for the race. All that remains is the victory dance. However, it must be acknowledged that such a race has no second place winners and the spoils go to the victors only.
But as usual in Saint Lucia politics, whenever an election date has been given, the political machinery of the political parties will churn out mind- blowing stories of the wheeling and dealing that takes place behind closed doors.
No sooner was a date for elections given, up came the story of longstanding United Workers Party member, Stephenson King’s resignation from the party and his move to contest the Castries North constituency as an Independent.
What appeared to be a rumour became factual when on Thursday it was confirmed that King will participated in the July 26 elections as an Independent.
There is no denying that the politics this week were clothed in excitement, providing fodder for the rumour mill, and which will remain so up till Election Day and after, as King motives become clear.
The question is: Did Allen Chastanet picked the right date? When to call a general election has always been a crucial one to make for a sitting prime minister. The timing has to be right.
Former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony can attest to that. He, in 2016, like Chastanet today, was incessantly called on to ring the elections bell, the loudest of such calls coming from Chastanet, then in opposition, who on 12 May, 2016, at an outdoor political meeting of his party on the William Peter Boulevard, challenged Anthony to ring the bell.
Dr. Anthony heeded the call soon after and sent the country into elections three weeks after announcing a date, much to his chagrin. Today, the shoe is on the other foot, as it is Chastanet, the very same one who was unrelenting in his call for Anthony to ring the bell in 2016, doing the same thing by giving Saint Lucians a three-week window to get their act together.
The Chastanet camp is hoping that his call will be the right one and that history does not repeat itself.
Regardless of the July 26 outcome, real change in the country is needed. We are speaking here of a development agenda of sorts that more adequately meets the needs of all Saint Lucians, and not just a few.
Real change could start with our leaders having an abiding respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Constitution of Saint Lucia. This, we believe, should be the philosophies of all political parties in today’s election race.
What is imperative today is an immediate reversal of the economic decline we are in, the social fragmentation that is taking place all around us, the lawlessness and moral degeneration that is stifling the country and the need to purge the divisiveness that is so prevalent in all corners of Fair Helen.
While we do not know Chastanet’s reasoning for calling a snap election, we have to posit that it does not give citizens enough time to analyse the parties’ plans for the country for the next five years, as there has been no kind of in-depth articulation of such plans.
Granted, the parties have held several virtual meetings with their bases, but these have not offered much. The structure, coherent way of delivering plans and promises, like having a manifesto, having public meetings and rallies are absent this time around.
But do Saint Lucians care? From what we have seen, it certainly looks like those who do care are in the minority while the majority are happy for the ‘good times’ they could get by following a political party up until general elections.
The short time given for elections should not deny Saint Lucians the existence of manifestos or in-depth presentations by the political parties of their plans for the country for the next five years.
We therefore call on the political parties to up their game. Leadership is serious business. Fluffing and bluffing will no longer do. The incoming five-year term will require astute leadership what with the pandemic still on, employment levels not up to pre-COVID height, unemployment rising in all demographics and crime now crashing through the roof, on an upward trajectory that appears out of control.
Every five years or so, we get a slim chance to affect our future. We make the most of this opportunity by analysing the programmes on offer by the various parties and candidates. Let us use it wisely and respectfully.