A new opinion poll has predicted that the main opposition New National Party (NNP) is likely to regain power in Grenada by winning the February 19 general elections with more seats than it had before it was swept out of power in 2008.
The poll by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services, Inc. (CADRES) predicts that the NNP, of former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, which lost the 2008 election by an 11-4 margin, is benefitting from an 11 percent swing away from the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
The poll states that Grenadians are in favor of Mitchell heading the new government than Thomas.
The poll, conducted between Jan. 18 and 21 after Thomas announced the date for the general elections, states that “57 per cent of Grenadians would prefer Dr. Keith Mitchell to be their prime minister, while 33 percent would prefer Mr. Tillman Thomas to remain as prime minister”.
“The major political finding of the survey is that there has been a decisive swing against the governing NDC, which CADRES measured at 11 per cent,” the poll says.
“The opposition NNP is the sole beneficiary of this swing away from the NDC, and this demonstrates that the two-party political conversation is still very much a reality in Grenada,” it added.
CADRES also said that the NDC off-shoot, the National Unity Front (NUF), “has not at this time stimulated the political interest of Grenadians.”
It said that the projected 11 percent swing towards the NNP needs to be placed in the context of the 2008 election, when the swing against the NNP was -0.4 percent but was significant enough to cause its defeat.
“On this occasion, the political pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, and it would appear as though Grenadians will return the NNP to office with a majority that is more generous than that which it enjoyed before the 2008 election,” CADRES said.
CADRES said that the poll also shows that voters were very much concerned about economic issues on the island with “the single largest quantity of persons in the survey (48 percent) were most concerned about the cost of living at this time, while a further 23 percent are concerned about employment and 15 percent about the economy.
“Cumulatively, it can be seen that 86 percent of Grenadians are preoccupied with matters of an economic nature at this time and have presumably cast blame on the governing NDC for these problems in much the same way that governments have been held accountable regionally and internationally for the recession,” CADRES said.
“Consistent with this view, some 49 percent of Grenadians polled indicated that they believed that Grenada was currently on the “wrong track”, with 25 percent believing the country to be on the “right track”, and the remainder (27 percent) declining to answer the question,” it added.
The poll also finds that despite the preoccupation with economic matters, Grenadians have confidence in the governing and opposing political parties, and that 30 percent of those questioned still repose confidence in the NDC, while 49 percent have confidence in the NNP to run their affairs, “which suggests that Grenadians do not believe that the NDC has the capacity to help them navigate these tempestuous economic waters”.
CADRES said while the poll was not intended to “speak to constituency outcomes”, the data collected “at the constituency level is consistent with the national trends, which, at this time, point to a change of government.
“The margin of victory at the national level will, however, depend largely on the extent to which individual candidates apply themselves over the next three weeks of this campaign,” CADRES said.
Meantime, less than 21 days before Grenadians go to the poll to elect a new government, Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Minister Denis Michael Lett has died. He was 74.
Lett, a member of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) died of prostate cancer, the party said.
He had successfully contested the 2003 and 2008 general elections but was not named as a candidate for the Feb. 19 poll.
Despite his ill health, Lett served as a government minister until his death.
On Jan. 27, the NDC read a letter in which Lett publicly endorsed Adrian Thomas to be the NDC candidate for the St. David constituency.
In the meanwhile, Grenada’s oldest political party, Grenada United Labor Party (GULP), said it will not contest the poll, effectively making the contest a two-way race between the NDC and the NNP.
“We decided at a meeting on Saturday that we will not contest because we have some things to get done, we are just not ready to contest the elections,” said Wilfred Haynes, the interim leader of the 62-year-old GULP.
Former opposition leader Michael Baptiste, who had earlier indicated that he would have led the GULP candidates into the elections, appeared on an NDC platform with Thomas, vowing to campaign on behalf of the incumbent.
It will be the first time the GULP, which once formed the government for 27 years under the late eccentric leader Sir Eric Gairy, will not be contesting an election since its formation in 1951.
The last time the GULP won a seat was in 1995, when two of its candidates were successful.