Almost a year since the incumbent Unity Labor Party (ULP) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines lost a referendum on a new Constitution for the multi-island state, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Sunday night called fresh general elections.
Gonsalves rang the election bell, for a Dec. 13 poll, at a massive campaign rally at the town of Calliaqua in the East St. George constituency.
The announcement came a day after Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace told his New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters that the elections will be held on Dec. 15.
“Mark my words. The Parliament will be dissolved on Monday, and you will go to the polls on the 15th of December,” Eustace, a former prime minister, had told supporters at Sion Hill, in his East Kingstown constituency, stating that the main opposition party was now “in charge”.
“If Gonsalves change that date, he change it tonight. And he is intending to announce it tomorrow. And, if he change it, I will know,” he added.
Gonsalves, whose Unity Labor Party (ULP) is seeking a third successive term in office, dismissed Eustace’s remarks as “boastful” and “childish.”
“If Eustace is in charge, why does he not send the requisite legal instruments to the Governor General?” he asked rhetorically.
“Why, if he is in charge, does he not advise the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and activate the electoral machinery for the elections?” he added.
“Eustace is engaged in the kind of empty boastfulness reserved for children. Only childish people or those intoxicated with laughable illusion or delusion of grandeur boast vaingloriously about these matters as Eustace did,” Gonsalves continued.
The elections were called three and a half months before their constitutionally due date on Mar. 29.
Nomination Day has been set for Nov. 26. Both main political parties are expected to contest all 15 constituencies.
Some political pundits say the ULP’s heavy loss in the Nov. 25 referendum would not necessarily be indicative of how voters cast their ballots in the general elections.
Both main parties, however, have expressed strong confidence in emerging victorious at the polls.