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Mitchell’s NNP sweeps back to power in Grenada, winning all 15 parliamentary seats


I wrote on Monday that Grenada’s New National Party (NNP) was likely to win today’s parliamentary election — and won it they have, taking all 15 of the seats in Grenada’s lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives.grenada flag

That means that Keith Mitchell, who previously served as prime minister from 1995 to 2008, will return to head Grenada’s government with a slightly more center-right administration, although it remains unclear whether the NNP or the NDC can unilaterally pull Grenada into better economic times when the entire Caribbean region remains economically depressed.

Not to say that the Caribbean region has ever exactly been an engine of economic growth beyond tourism revenue, and that’s of course highly dependent on the global economy.

The last time that one party swept all 15 seats was in 1999, when, once again, Mitchell was leading the NNP.

Not only will Tillman Thomas, the current prime minister and leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lose power, he will lose his constituency, and the NDC will now be entirely unrepresented in the House of Representatives through the next five years.

Thomas’s government was seen as somewhat lackluster and passive in the face of unemployment and economic malaise on an island where tourism is the key industry, and his party was beset with numerous defections and infighting heading into Tuesday’s vote.  Thomas’s former foreign minister Karl Hood even endorsed the NNP, and a former NDC environment minister Glynis Roberts formed a new center-left alternative, the National United Front to challenge for three constituencies on Tuesday.

Unemployment is running between 30% and 40% on the island of around 110,000 residents.

The Caribbean Development Bank has identified Grenada as one of seven Caribbean economies with unsustainable debt levels.

Among the other seven is Barbados, which holds parliamentary elections on Thursday — and prime minister Freundel Stuart’s Democratic Labour Party (DLP) faces a stiff challenge as well from a former three-term prime minister, Owen Arthur, and the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

The BLP is not as strongly favored to win Thursday’s elections as the NNP was favored to win today’s Grenadian elections, but the result from St. George’s should give Arthur and the BLP some amount of comfort — and likewise, it won’t be an easy 48 hours for Stuart’s drive for reelection.

Photo credit to WEE FM’s Mikey Hutchinson.

Election week in the Caribbean

bajan parliament

Two of the Caribbean’s more colorful island nations go to the polls this week in parliamentary elections — Grenada on Tuesday and Barbados on Thursday.grenada flagbarbados flag

In Grenada, prime minister Tillman Thomas is seeking reelection for his government, led by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which holds 11 out of the 15 seats in the Grenadian House of Representatives, the lower house of Grenada’s bicameral parliament (the Senate, its upper house, is comprised of 13 members, 10 appointed by the government and three appointed by the opposition).

Meanwhile in Barbados, prime minister Freundel Stuart is seeking election in his own right after succeeding David Thompson as prime minister in October 2010 after Thompson died from pancreatic cancer.  Voters will choose 30 members of the House of Assembly, the lower house of Barbados’s parliament (pictured above).

There are some similarities between the two Caribbean countries beyond the timing of this week’s elections:

  • Both incumbent governments face uphill battles for reelection amid tough economic conditions throughout the Caribbean region — just last week, Jamaican prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller announced the country’s second debt swap plan in three years, designed to alleviate Jamaica’s debt crisis, where public debt stands at 140% of GDP.  Both Barbados and Grenada have been identified by the Caribbean Development Bank as having unsustainable debt levels.
  • In both countries, more right-wing opposition parties are led by former longtime, three-term prime ministers (Keith Mitchell in Grenada and Owen Arthur in Barbados).
  • Both feature stable political systems with a relatively entrenched two-party system, in each case with parties that are essentially moderate that lean only slightly left or right.
  • Both economies remain heavily dependent on tourism, and have absorbed the secondary shock of global economic downturn over the past five years, with each country having its own niche agricultural markets — Grenada is a leading exporter of nutmeg, mace and cocoa, while Barbados exports sugar and rum.
  • Both are former British colonies — Barbados, with nearly 275,000 residents, became independent in 1966, Grenada, with just around 110,000 residents, won independence in 1974 — that were both part of the short-lived West Indies Federation that existed from 1958 to 1962 that also included Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, among other islands.
  • Queen Elizabeth II still serves as head of state for both countries — in Barbados, the Queen’s appointed representative, the governor-general, is responsible for appointing all 21 members of the Senate, the upper house of the Barbadian parliament.
  • Both will be electing members of the lower house of parliament only, and in each case, election is determined on a first-past-the-post basis in single-member constituencies.

Continue reading Election week in the Caribbean