Voters in two not-so-politically insignificant nations of the Caribbean trade bloc will go to the polls this month to elect a new government two days apart in much the same way they did in 1999, with pollsters predicting an uphill task for two prime ministers who are widely regarded as the dullest and most uncharismatic of regional leaders in recent times. Grenada’s Tillman Thomas, whose New National Democratic Congress (NDC) had won 11 of the 15 constituency seats when Grenadians last voted in 2008, is facing an electorate that is well aware that his NDC has split down the middle. Some of its best-known names, including former Foreign Minister Peter David, walked out on him for various reasons—his dour leadership style being one of them.
The elections and boundaries commission says that about 60,000 islanders are eligible to vote on Feb. 19, but how many of them will stay with his party rather than vote for former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) is left to be seen.
Mitchell’s time in office—three lengthy terms—was characterized by widespread and credible allegations of corruption involving cabinet ministers and other top officials. Whether voters are ready to have the mathematician and avowed regionalist back in charge is up for debate, analysts say, even as the NDC is politically weakened and less united than when it swept to office five years ago.
Ironically, nearly the same considerations are on the table in nearby Barbados, where Thomas’ fellow attorney Freundel Stuart will try for a second five-year term on Feb. 21. In 1999, the two countries had also held elections less than a week apart, while Guyana and St. Lucia had held theirs on the same day back in November 2011.