Second Caribbean government taken out by voters

Bert Wilkinson | 4/30/2015, 11:55 a.m.

In all this year, six general elections are to be held in the 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc, and if internal and other polls hold true, four of these are expected to yield new governments or result in wafer-thin majorities.

In the past week, voters in the tiny British dependency of Anguilla in the Eastern Caribbean gave a landslide victory to the main opposition, Anguilla United Front, allowing them to win six of the seven seats in the race and, in the process, dumping the Anguilla United Movement.

In mid-January, voters in neighboring St. Kitts and Nevis kicked out the administration of Prime Minister Denzil Douglas after 20 years in office in the wake of allegations of corruption, nepotism and an abuse of an economic citizenship program originally designed to bring citizens of quality to live in the federation but one that had attracted folks of questionable character. The move forced Canada to change its policy of no entry visas for federation citizens, making it harder for those who bought local citizenship and passports through the scheme to enter the country.

Meanwhile, nearly 11,000 of the 13,500 residents of the 35-square-mile island voted in the Anguilla elections, with main campaign teams being linked to a slowing economy, the need for better infrastructure, job creation and good governance.

In less than three weeks from now, nearly 600,000 eligible voters in the Caribbean trade bloc headquarter nation of Guyana will go to the polls, with a multiracial coalition trying its level best to unseat the Indo-dominated governing People’s Progressive Party, which is seeking a record sixth consecutive term.

Also on May 25, more than 350,000 people will head to polling stations in neighboring Suriname to elect a new government. There two main coalition groups, the Mega Combination of former military strongman and 1980 coup maker Desi Bouterse and opposition the New Front to be led by former police chief Chandra Santokhi.

Before 2015 ends, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is expected to win another term in fresh elections scheduled by December, and like Bouterse in Suriname, he should survive into the new year.

But the incumbents in racially charged Guyana and Trinidad are at this moment on shaky political and electoral grounds. Polls in Trinidad currently show that the main opposition People’s National Movement could return to power after a single term in opposition at the expense of the People’s Partnership coalition of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Like Donald Ramotar just down south in Guyana, the administrations is beset by more than credible allegations of runaway corruption, nepotism and graft, putting them under severe pressure to win another term.

A multiracial coalition led by retired army Brig. Gen. David Granger thinks it will win about 55 percent of the votes in Guyana to give it a comfortable working parliamentary majority, but a clearly rattled and jittery People’s Progressive Party has not tried to hide its open appeals to Indo voters and suggestions that an Afro-led administration will bring physical harm to Indians—suggestions that have resulted in widespread condemnation.