ST. VINCENT:- The Dr Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration in St Vincent and the Grenadines will has been returned to office for a third term having won just eight of the 15 seats at stake.
The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Arnhim Eustace, sunk its claws further into the Parliament when it wrestled from the ULP four of the seats it won in the 2001 and 2005 elections, moving its margin to seven
Preliminary results show that the ULP got 27,648 votes or 51.61 per cent of the popular votes while the NDP garnered 26,231 ballots or 47.78 per cent. The Green Party mustered 123 votes, a mere 0.21 per cent.
Some 61.65 per cent of the 101,053 persons registered to vote cast ballots, compared to 63 per cent in 2005.
Pundits will record the elections as a historic one not only because it’s the first third consecutive win for a labour government but also because a party took Parliament without winning any of the Kingstown seats
The ULP announced that it had won the elections about two three hours after polls closed at 5 p.m. By the time electoral officials confirmed the results ULP supporters were already celebrating across the country.
Preliminary results show that the ULP won the Central Leeward, North Windward, North Central Windward, South Central Windward, South Windward, Marriaqua, East St. George and West St. George seats, while the NDP was victorious in the Northern Grenadines, Southern Grenadines, South Leeward, North Leeward, Central Kingstown, West Kingstown, and East Kingstown.
Gonsalves, 64, further entrenched his hold in the North Central Windward constituency, which he has represented since 1994, winning 3003 of the votes cast.
His opponent, Kenroy Johnson of the NDP, who was selected two days before Nomination Day, also improved his party’s performance in the constituency when he got 731 votes.
In 2005, Gonsalves got 2887 votes to the then NDP candidate, Cameron Balcombe’s 676.
And while Arnhim Eustace’s faith as leader of the NDP might hang in the balance after leading the party to a third consecutive loss, he improved his stakes in East Kingstown, which he won for a fourth straight term.
Eustace,65, defeated the ULP’s, Luke Browne 2590 votes to 2117, in what was pitched as the David and Goliath battle of the elections. The Green Party’s candidate, Sabrina Ells got seven votes.
In a two-way race in 2005, Eustace won his seat by 143 votes, a 400 per cent increase over his 2001 showing.
Gonsalves’ victory in North Central Windward was part of the ULP’s domination of the eastern corridors of mainland St. Vincent.
The NDP won the three Kingstown seats, two of the three leeward seats, on the western side of the island, in addition to the two Grenadine seats.
Montgomery Daniel, the last agriculture minister, retained his grip on the North Windward seat against former teacher Elvis Daniel was failed in a second attempt to win the seat. The Green Party was represented by Christopher Carter.
The ULP also retained South Central Windward, where former senator and first time candidate, lawyer Saboto Caesar, defeated former teacher and newcomer Addison “Bash” Thomas of the NDP and the Green Party’s Elca V. Cain.
In South Windward, the ULP’s Frederick Stephenson won the seat, which was vacated by former minister of Tourism Glen Beache, who has quit electoral politics.
Stephenson staved off Orit De Roche of the Green Party and the more formidable Burton Williams of the NDP.
The former health minister returned to politics after fallout with party founder and former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell in 1994.
Girlyn Miguel, the ULP’s three time winner in Marriaqua, will be Deputy Prime Minister, Gonsalves has said.
Miguel, the Minister of Education under the last ULP administration, had another convincing victory against the NDP, this time represented by newcomer, pharmacist Curtis Bowman, and the Michael Scott of the Green Party.
The ULP also dominated the parish of St. George, the eastern side of which Clayton Burgin won for a third consecutive time, once again defeating NDP Chairman, lawyer Dr. Linton Lewis, in addition to Yvonne Simon of the Green Party.
In the western side of the parish, insurance executive Cecil McKie defeated the NDP’s public relations officer, lawyer Vynnette Frederick. Both candidates were contesting elections for the first time.
Eustace is joined in winners row in Central Kingstown, but Major St. Claire Leacock, who saw the seat slip through his hands by a mere 16 votes in 2005.
This time, Leacock, another vice-president of the NDP, defeated new comer, former teacher Elvis Charles and Green Party leader Ivan O’Neal.
In West Kingstown, “the water man” Daniel Cummings, flushed out former beauty Queen Michelle Fife, who hoping to retain the seat for the ULP after culture minister Rene Baptiste decided not to run again.
Herbalist Joseph “Bongo Shines” Cain will have of the Green Party also failed in his attempt to concoct the magic portion in West Kingstown.
The NDP continued its rout of the leeward side of the island in the neighbouring South Leeward when Niguel Stevenson, in his second attempt, wrestled the seat from the ULP, this time from David Browne, who had replaced health minister Dr Slate as the candidate. The Green Party fielded Carvena Culzac.
The NDP was denied total domination of the leeward seats by former educator and diplomat Maxwell Charles, who, in his first attempt, defeated newcomer Aphine Simmons of the Green Party, in addition to Norrell Hull, who has failed on all four tries for the NDP.
The biggest casualty for the ULP this election is undoubtedly former Minister of Telecommunication Dr Jerrol Thompson, who might have to return to practising medicine after constituents voted him out of office in favour of former teacher Roland “Patel” Matthews, who failed to win the seat in 2005 by a mere 22 votes. The Green party was represented by Cedeny John.
As was expected in the Grenadines, which the NDP has represented since the 1960, Terrance Ollivierre once again defeated Edwin Snagg of the ULP in addition to Donald O’neal of the Green Party.
In the Northern Grenadines, Dr. Godwin Friday retained the seat for the NDP, once again trouncing Herman Belmar of the ULP and first time candidate Christian Waldron of the Green Party.