The ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell continued its dominance of electoral politics in Grenada with another clean sweep of all fifteen seats in Tuesday’s general elections.
By 6.30 p.m, it was clear that the NNP was remaining in office as its candidates had built up substantial leads in results from the declared polling stations.
The only Congress candidate who came close to a win was party leader, former Finance Minister, Nazim Burke who was locked in a tight battle for the St. George North-east seat with Tobias Clement who had defeated him in 2013.
Burke fell short by 126 votes as he secured 2495 votes in comparison with Clement who polled 2621 ballots.
Hours before, the former Finance Minister in the 2008-13 Congress government appeared confident that his party could win the election and form the new government.
As he went to the St. Mary’s Junior School in Tempe on Election Day to vote, Burke told reporters that the prospect looked good for NDC and they were committed to not letting down the people of Grenada.
“The day is finally come and the people finally get to decide what kind of government they want for Grenada. We feel encouraged by what we have seen so far, we feel quite optimistic that things will work out according to plan and we are happy”, he said.
The Congress leader was confident that his team had done the work needed to come out victorious at the polls.
“I think whatever the outcome of the race I feel assured that we gave it our very best shot. As you know, we are coming from way behind – we had no seats in the Parliament and we of course cannot match the ruling party with resources. So, we had to fight a very smart campaign, a very strategic campaign, a very clean campaign…it’s all about public confidence and I think we did the best we could have done in the circumstances,” he said.
Of the 57, 029 persons who voted on Tuesday, the NNP secured 33, 786 votes and NDC 23, 243 virtually the same figure like in 2013.
Burke told reporters before the results were announced that his Congress team of Candidates was ready to serve with a purpose.
He said: “The uppermost thing on my mind is first of all putting together the team of people that will run the government…we have already considered that question of course but having the right people in the right places is most important because I told the team already we cannot afford to let down the Grenadian people, they have been disappointed for too long by succeeding governments, we must get it right this time and if we were to form the government with God’s help that’s exactly what we’re going to do…we will ensure that we do all the things that are necessary to regain and retain the confidence of the Grenadian people”.
The NDC had high hopes going into the elections with newcomer Ray Roberts who was up against Nicholas Steele, the son of a businessman from the well-to-do Lance Aux Epines area.
Steele won the South St. George constituency by 857 votes as he polled 3536 to Roberts’ 2679.
After casting his vote on Tuesday, Roberts told reporters that the experience of running for public office was an enriching one.
“It’s been eight weeks of a learning experience. I think I have learnt a lot. I realise that many times we talk in society but we don’t have the reality of what’s on the ground.
“I think I am a better person in terms of the human being having engaged people who are rich, people who are in poverty, people who are looking for jobs, looking for betterment and their plight and their suffering. I think I have a greater feeling (of) empathy with those people…
“If I am lucky to be elected or blessed to be elected, I certainly will be one of the people who keep that commitment, not to be favoured but I have learnt a lot and I will really cherish the opportunity.
“It’s been an intriguing experience and I would encourage many more people to go that part. I think Grenada would be better off because I think many more people will have a real life understanding of what the people need…”.
Attorney-at-law Peter David, who was the NNP winning candidate for the town of St. George also spoke with the local media after casting his vote on Tuesday.
The controversial but confident looking David who once held the powerful position of General Secretary in NDC said that he was already seeing the victory in front of him.
“I feel confident. The reports coming out is that we are optimistic that we can pull it off and …we’re looking to pull it off big, so I am confident”, he said.
“We both know that it is not good to be over confident but…at this stage we feel good that we are going to take the town of St. George,” he added.
However, when asked about his plans for the town of St. George if returned to the positions he held from the 2003 and 2008 elections, David was rather cautious.
“Everybody knows me not to be very tribal in my approach. The same plans I had before that I was not able to fulfill, I will be looking at them. I think the key thing for me now is to pool the people together in the town of St. George if I win and let’s have a discussion about the future because it’s the same thing I have been saying nationally that what we need to do is to pool people together…let’s have a conversation,” he said.
David received 1616 votes to defeat his nearest challenger, female attorney-at-law, Claudette Joseph (NDC) who ended up with 789 votes.
THE NEW TODAY visited several polling stations on Election Day but many voters were reluctant to be interviewed by the media.
However, one person who spoke complained about long lines and the disorganised approach from officials of the Parliamentary Elections Office at many polling stations.
“The process was too long. I have been there for over three-and-a-half hours and I had problems with the list in terms of where I am supposed to go and vote but I made a wise choice”, he said.
Another voter remarked: “Since ten to 6 I was here, I had problems. The people were disorganised because they should have lines telling you where to go. This is the first time I am voting in Grenada because I live in America for over forty years …well to tell you the truth I voted for the NNP.”
“The process was long – over three hours in the line, they are not organised. I voted wisely, I voted for country, I voted for my children and grandchildren, I voted for truth and I had this song in my head, “Your country is my country as well’,” said another individual.
Up to the time of going to press, Prime Minister Mitchell had not announced the shape of his new Cabinet of Ministers.
Sources told THE NEW TODAY that long-standing party member, Dr. Lawrence Joseph is tipped to remain in the post of Attorney-General as his contract is due to expire in the next three to four months.