Today, Tuesday October 20th, 2020 is an important day in the lives of incumbent and hopeful constituency representatives across the political spectrum in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Nomination day is the process whereby prospective candidates are formally recognized as candidates by the Supervisor of Elections Office as being in good standing, having met the criteria to be on the ballot paper to be elected as a constituency representative.
Anyone who wishes to stand for election must be nominated on an official nomination paper submitted on Nomination Day. They must stand either for an established political party or as an independent. All candidates must pay a deposit which is lost if they do not secure a specified number of votes.
Subject to the provisions of section 26 of the Constitution, a person shall be qualified to be elected as a representative if, and shall not be so qualified unless, he:
- is a Commonwealth citizen of the age of twenty-one years or upwards;
- has resided in St. Vincent for a period of twelve months immediately before the date of his nominations for election or is domiciled and resident in St. Vincent at that date: and
- is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or the physical cause, to read the English language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him to take an active part in the proceedings of the House.
While the electoral landscape in St Vincent and the Grenadines like most other countries in the Caribbean is dominated by two major political parties, small entities have sprung up over the years as an alternative.
In recent times, only the St. Vincent Green Party led by Ivan O’neal has been consistent in nominating candidates.
Two other smaller political entities including the recently formed United Progressive Party (UPP) led by Mark Doyle and the Democratic Republican Party (DRP) previously led by Ms Anesia Baptiste are not expected to field any candidates in the upcoming general elections.
With elections just 16 days away, all eyes are on the incumbent Unity Labour Party (ULP) which is seeking an unprecedented five (5) terms in government and the major opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP).
The NDP launched its fifteen candidates last Sunday in Owia while the ULP will launch their team tonight at 8:00 pm a virtual public meeting.
Ballot Papers are expected to feature the following matchups:
ULP- Montgomery Daniel
NDP- Shevern John
North Central Windward
ULP- Dr Ralph Gonsalves
NDP- Chieftain Neptune
ULP- Frederick Stephenson
NDP- Noel Dickson
South Central Windward
ULP- Saboto Caesar
NDP- Israel Bruce
ULP- St Clair Prince
NDP- Bernard Wyllie
East St George
ULP- Camillo Gonsalves
NDP- Laverne Gibson-Velox
West St George
ULP- Curtis King
NDP- Kay Bacchus-Baptiste
ULP- Luke Browne
NDP- Dwight Bramble
ULP- Dominic Sutherland
NDP- St Clair Leacock
ULP- Deborah Charles
NDP- Daniel Cummings
ULP- Dr Mineva Glasgow
NDP- Nigel Stephenson
ULP- Dr Orando Brewster
NDP- Benjamin Exeter
ULP- Carlos James
NDP- Roland Matthews
ULP- Carlos Williams
NDP- Dr Godwin Friday
ULP- Edwin Snagg
NDP- Terrance Ollivierre
Each candidate is required to pay a deposit of five hundred ($500.00) and must be presented by at least six electors who are registered to vote in the particular constituency.
Before the usual festive nomination of each candidate begins, tensions are expected in East Kingstown surrounding the nomination of NDP candidate Fitz Bramble.
Persons have been speculating that there will be a challenge to Bramble’s candidacy as he was ‘domiciled’ in Canada prior to returning to St. Vincent and the Grenadines less than six (6) months ago.
While the law has been given different interpretations according to who you ask, the statutory declaration FORM 3 which each candidate will sign later today states:
I have resided in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for a period of twelve months immediately before the date of nomination for election;
*I am domiciled in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and resident therein at the date of nomination for election.
It is the latter statement that supporters of Bramble’s candidacy are claiming makes him eligible for election in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
However, it is still left to be seen if an official challenge would be made to have the provision interpreted by the court.
Despite the usual tensions around one or more candidates, today is expected to be a smooth operation by the electoral office across all 15 constituencies.
There will be a carnival-like atmosphere in some constituencies as large crowds are expected to gather to support their respective nominees.