Ending months of speculation about the election date, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves says Vincentians will go to the polls in fresh general elections on Dec. 9.
Addressing a sea of red – the colors of the incumbent Unity Labor Party (ULP) – at a major rally at the Grammar School Playing Field in capital city Kingstown, Gonsalves said that Nomination Day will be on Nov. 20.
He said Parliament was dissolved earlier on Saturday, and that his party will present a full slate of 15 candidates in the general elections.
Saturday’s announcement was made at the same venue for the last general elections on Dec. 13, 2013.
In that elections, the ULP held on to a slim lead, winning 8-7 seat in Parliament, with voters casting 32,099 ballots in its favor to the NDP’s 30, 568 votes. The NDP had won the remaining seven seats.
Gonsalves said the ULP is confident of returning to office for an unprecedented four consecutive, five-year term.
He said his party will field a full slate of 15 candidates in the December elections.
The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), led by economist and former Prime Minister Arnhim Eustace, is also expected to field a full slate in the 15-seat Legislature.
Gonsalves’ announcement Saturday night comes four months ahead of the constitutional due date of March 2016.
Political analysts say the elections will be a very close call, with the likelihood of a swing either way for the two main parties.
Should ULP win the elections, it will be a significant swing away from the current trend in which incumbent parties, except in the case of Belize, have failed to return to office.
In recent months, opposition parties in Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago have won general elections.
If re-elected, Gonsalves will be the longest-serving Caribbean leader to hold office uninterruptedly.