Delegitimising Opponents: A Worrisome Trend

There is no Parliamentary Opposition in Grenada so the responsibility of representing the interests of all Grenadians, including the over 45,000 registered voters who did not vote for the party in office, rests with that same party.

Part of the responsibility of the party in office in ensuring that the interests of ALL Grenadians are represented, is making sure that the main opposition NDC, is not excluded from participation in affairs of the state. That is because 41% of voters in the last General Election favoured the NDC. The NDC recognises that this responsibility is not a legal one, but if Government is serious about inclusiveness and national unity, it must acknowledge that 41% of the voting population cannot just be ignored.

Unfortunately, for the most part, the NDC has been ignored and excluded from State affairs since February 2013 and it has gotten worse since March 2018. Repeated statements from Mitchell and his followers at all levels are that NDC is dead. Such attitude and utterances ought not to be taken lightly, for they are symptomatic of a bigger problem, that is, they threaten democracy itself.

Not all leaders or political parties who are dictatorial or authoritarian in government display such tendencies early on. So it is of no comfort to suggest that Mitchell does not have such a record. In any event, he does.

We are warned by Professors of Government at Harvard University, Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt, that we should worry when leaders display even one (1) trait of authoritarianism. Denying the legitimacy of opponents is one of the four (4) major traits of authoritarians that they identify.

After the 2018 Elections, the Governor General saw it fit to appoint two opposition Senators from the NDC. These young Senators often report scant treatment when attending official functions. So much so, that they felt compelled to leave the Independence Day celebrations prematurely.

On Saturday last, the NDC’s interim Party Leader was an invited guest at a function held at the Parliament building on the occasion of the Royal visit. He was invited in his capacity as Leader of the NDC. He was forced to withdraw from the event after being insulted by a Protocol Officer, no less.

Since the incident was made public, all manner of spin has been put on what really happened. Taken all of the spin at the highest, the crux of the matter is that a Protocol Officer, properly trained and doing his or her job impartially and professionally would never have interacted with an invited guest in a manner so embarrassing that the guest felt compelled to leave.

Disrespect and scant treatment of our Senators and now our Interim Party Leader cannot be put down to just isolated instances or even individuals acting on their own accord. It is said, a fish rots from the head. The attitude towards and treatment of executive members of the NDC by lower level personnel is a reflection of the calculated attitude of those at the very top.

Indeed, in a public discussion of the issue on social media, Anthony Boatswain, MP for St. Patrick West and senior member of the ruling party, was quick to point out that “Mr. Andall had only himself to blame” for the Protocol Officer insulting him and further, Mr. Boatswain said, “Mr. Andall represents NO ONE”. This is Boatswain’s view, even though Andall was invited as leader of the party commanding the support of 41% of the voting population.

The signs of the one party state, dictatorship, authoritarian government are all around for us to see. They are manifested not only in the delegitimising of the NDC but also in the control/intimidation of the media and in ignoring the rule of law. That is, ignoring the Constitution of Grenada especially when it comes to public workers and in allowing the court system to fall apart.

According to Professors Levitsky and Ziblatt, the people should worry when these signs are manifested.

(The above reflects the views of the main opposition National Democratic Congress)

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