Voters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are heading to the polls this morning to elect a new government. This is the 10th general elections since the country attained independence in October 1979.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and the Unity Labour Party (ULP) face main rival Dr. Godwin Friday and the New Democratic Party (NDP).
If the 74 year old Dr. Gonsalves is successful in his bid, it would be an unprecedented 5th consecutive term in power. The ULP is hoping for a more comfortable margin of victory than the one seat lead it managed in the previous two general elections.
Meanwhile, 61 year old Dr. Friday is leading the NDP into a general election for the first time. He took over from Arnhim Eustace who himself suffered four consecutive defeats to the ULP.
Leading pollster Peter Wickham penned a letter in the regional media this week hinting that Vincentians may re-elect Prime Minister Gonsalves.
98,119 people are eligible to vote today with polling stations opening at 7:00 a.m. Special arrangements are in place to ensure front line workers can vote early. A six member CARICOM Election Observation Mission will be monitoring the polls.
The elections will also be remembered for provisions made for persons in quarantine to voter from 5:00 – 5:30 pm, after the normal period of voting due to precautions being taken to prevent the spread of Covi9-19.
Jobs, healthcare, education, youth issues and leadership were some of the major issues that featured on the platform of the two major parties contesting the elections.