IS THE NNP BEATABLE IN 2018?
Written by William Joseph on February 23, 2018
Dey ask me dat question, so ah answering, “YES” boldly, as I have not been given the spirit of fear.
Begin by recognizing that 2018 is ‘The Year of the Young Voter’! Ponder this reality well!
Secondly, where human beings are concerned, nothing is cast in stone. Opinions can change very quickly, whether due to abuse of power, disappointment, scandal, fear or revulsive behavior. Furthermore, people might simply get to a point where they say, “Ah tired wit dat”! Elections are won and lost primarily on the basis of how some people feel and what some think. The results of the last elections are never a reliable predictor of the outcome at the next elections. Therefore, no party is invincible! And no party can be dismissed because they were last defeated. Things can shift! Pretty obvious, eh!
Recently, the NNP ran an advertisement in which they declared that Dr Mitchell is the most successful Prime Minister in the history of Grenada! That boast is factually correct if one is counting victories at the polls. But take a closer look at those victories. In 1995, a then Minister of Government, gifted the elections to the NNP by saying his party was going to bring back Income Tax. Middle and working- class voters abandoned the NDC in droves and NNP won by one seat! In 1999, with the opposition parties in absolute disarray, the NNP won all fifteen seats; a default victory! So too was the victory in 2013, given the senseless division within the NDC. In 2003, the NNP won by six votes in Carriacou!
So a reasonable view of the evidence is that the NNP has never been truly dominant and has not been as heavily favored or entrenched as was Uncle Gairy’s GULP, for example. Notice that at his weakest, given the strength of the opposition then, Gairy won the 1976 elections by three seats! At his weakest in 2008, Dr. Mitchell lost the elections by eight seats! Got ya, eh! Ponder well!
In 2008, as he would himself agree, the electorate pronounced a judgment on the NNP leader i.e. they were done with him! Were it not for NDC’s self-inflicted calamity, the NNP would not have won in 2013. ‘The 2008 judgment’ is still in effect for thousands of voters! This powerful factor, along with evidence of staleness, ageing and tiredness on the part of Dr. Mitchell, explains the challenging buoyancy of the NDC in 2018. Many say ‘The Greenery’ is lacking a refreshing and inspiring voice at this time. On the other hand, the NDC supporters are giving their party a loud voice! They are providing leadership! Breaking news!
But there is more. Grenadian voters have shown willingness in the past to overlook things like corruption in Government, unless the country is brought to international shame. They have shown a willingness to disregard a condemnatory finding by Cheltenham’s Commission of Inquiry that Dr. Mitchell had “demeaned the Office of Prime Minister”. It is reasonable; therefore, to argue that in given circumstances the electorate will be willing to overlook Mr. Burke’s low likeability rating and out- of- style ‘bright boy-ism’. Do such circumstances exist in 2018? Probably so! In 2018, the NDC can have its first default victory! Why not?
Without purporting to offer advice, the next 10 days of the campaign are going to be critical for the parties. In the mind of the undecided voter (youth and working- class), both must lift their game. Both must get the messaging right. Can one create a ‘rising tide’ and inspire the youth? Can the other offer a convincing development platform and control its ‘big money’ optics?
If it is too risky for the NNP leader to engage in a public debate, then it is too risky for the NDC leader to remain stuck on his Policy Agenda. Remember, we operate an adversarial system and the smart management of risks is important. But, critical, is the management of message. Evidently, the NNP is not as formidable as some might have thought; neither is the NDC as foreclosed as others might have thought. Polls don’t tell us that!