The Grenada Referendum: Whose victory?

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ST GEORGE,S’ GRENADA (CARIBUPDATE/Dec 4, 2016) - While  top officials of the opposition National Democratic Congress were at pains before the recent referendum vote to say that they were never advocating and up-and-down “no” vote, they celebrated the outcome as if it is their victory.

  There were pockets of celebrations in at least St George’s and St Andrew’s, some of it being led by people considered to be party caretakers.

  On the day before the vote, a local pollster associated with the NDC was in Grenville, giving out a campaign sheet advocating “no.”

  In the aftermath of the stunning failure of all seven bills, the party’s financed talkshows declared it “a political victory.”

  But at least two people – a Caribbean pollster and analyst and a local pastor who aggressively promoted a “no” vote on the Rights Bill (Bill #6), suggested that it will be phony for any organization to claim victory.

  And on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell accused the opposition of playing naked politics – even going back on agreements they had initially supported – on how both should conduct themselves during the process.

  Dr Mitchell said, while his New National Party kept its part of the bargain, the National Democratic Congress reneged on the understanding.

  While he did not rule out any future attempts at constitutional reform, Dr Mitchell indicated that the government will like to revisit the issue of the Caribbean Court of Justice and the Electoral Commission.

   But he said that there is no point pushing forward, unless there is an air-tight commitment from the opposition on the issue.

  The Grenadian leader noted that if his party was to take a complete partisan approach, he is confident that it can get the majority of people to vote for the bills, but they will still fail because of the two-thirds threshold.

   Dr Mitchell noted that no party in the history of Grenada has received a two-thirds vote in any election, and for any reform to take place it must have the co-operation of the opposition.

   Pastor Devon Rachae, who led the campaign for a “no” vote on the Rights Bills, said he was personally disappointed some of the other bills were not approved.

  He agrees that a bi-partisan approach is needed.

 “Let’s find out from the both political parties what is it they really have interest in and try to get bills that we can have bipartisan support to and hopefully we can have a genuine process,” he told CARIBUPDATE.

  “And as I said we need reform, and it don’t have to be partisan and this was stressed by several persons in the process. But I believe at the end of the day there was a perception of politics being played in different way during the process,” Rachae conceded.

  The Pastor said he does not think the outgoing has the political significance some are attaching to it.

  “I don’t think it will create a major shift in the political dynamics or the political landscape because reform is not a partisan process,” he said.

 Barbados-based pollster Peter Wickham said for all the opposition euphoria, it is set to lose the next general elections in the next year and a half.

  “I would like to take you back to the St Vincent scenario where within months of referendum St Vincent went into a general election.  The referendum was lost and the general election was won,” Wickham said.

 “I think that the lead politically that Prime Minister Keith Mitchell currently has, is unassailable.  I don’t see a path to victory for the NDC,” the noted Barbadian pollster declared.

 “I believe that they (NDC) are in a situation now were they are not doing well,” he added.  

 Wickham said that he was surprised that the NDC did not back the measures for a permanent opposition leader, setting up of an electoral commission and a fixed date for general elections.

  He said that would have given them an immediate boost.

 “But they never sought to secure that, and as a result they’re in a situation now, where if anything, they’re worse of today than they were previously,” he declared.

 

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