ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, March 14, 2018 (CMC) – Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, led his New National Party (NNP) to an historic clean-sweep of all 15 seats in the general election, here, yesterday, making it the third time he has achieved the feat in electoral politics in Grenada.
The 71-year-old Mitchell, who led the NNP to a consecutive sweep following his 2013 victory, immediately called on the leadership of the main opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC), to be part of the social partners that will chart the way forward for the tri-island state.
“It feels good, the people of my country has shown the level of confidence in the way I have governed; it is a humbling experience,” Mitchell said, after the preliminary results showed that the party had swept all the seats in Parliament.
“Whatever achievement we have had, I first have to give thanks to Almighty God and the people of this country,” Mitchell said, adding that the election was the “most stress-free I have ever had in my 34 years in politics”.
The Prime Minister said that, unlike 2013 when he won the general election and had no idea as to the state of the local economy, this time around, “I don’t feel the pressure because I am in the seat and I know what the plans are”.
“Therefore I feel very confident I will meet the aspirations of the people of this country,” he said, noting however that “to whom a lot is given, a lot is expected”.
Mitchell easily won the St. George North West seat, which he has been representing for more than three decades, defeating the NDC’s Ali Anthony Brian Dowden by a 2546 to 406 margin.
Former NDC executive, Peter David, who was fired from the party in 2013 and joined the NNP, easily won the Town of St. George seat, polling 1616 votes, as compared to 789 for Claudette Joseph of the NDC.
In the St. George South constituency, Health Minister, Nickolas Tang Conway Steele, polled the most votes in the election, receiving 3536 votes, as against 2679 for former public servant and trade unionist, Raymond Roberts, of the NDC.
Mitchell said he is convinced that if his administration is able to bring Grenadians, including the estimated 20,000 people who voted against the NNP, together, then the country would be better off.
He dismissed the notion that the clean-sweep would result in the government having a free hand in running the affairs of the country.
“You can’t ignore that 20,000 people voted against you…the task is to bring that element into the decision-making process,” he said, reiterating his call for the NDC to join the social partners in “dealing with the problems of the country”.
He has already indicated he would be looking at the manifesto of the NDC, adding “you could have the best ideas and, (if) you don’t have that team, willing to reach out for different opinions, you are not going to be as successful as you should be”.
“The NDC will get a commitment from us to involve them. They refused before…but I hope with the present results, more common sense will prevail,” Mitchell said, adding that he had not yet received any congratulatory message from Burke.
Burke, who led the party into an election for the first time, failed to win the St. George North East constituency, losing to the NNP’s Tobias Clement, 2458 to 2319 votes.
Mitchell, who said that a national rally will be held, today, to celebrate the victory, said if he had to provide any advice to the NDC it would be to change the leadership, so as to provide leadership in the country.
Barbados-based political scientist and pollster, Peter Wickham, who had predicted an NNP victory, said that the NDC strategy “was flawed”.
He said the party would have been better off campaigning on the promise of a “strong opposition”, rather than trying to tell the population it would win the election given the results of the 2103 poll.
“The mistake the NDC made is that they made people believe that they were winning,” Wickham said, adding that the results made it imperative for the “NDC to clean house”.
Another political commentator, Ambrose Phillip, said the NDC has to “do some soul searching”, adding it had underestimated the electorate.
Today, Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, also offered congratulations to the NNP, saying that the government in Grenada was rewarded for its efforts in building investor confidence and addressing many ‘critical” initiatives in the country, following its historic third total sweep of the polls in a general election.
Skerrit, who said he had already extended congratulations to Mitchell, said that the victory showed that the Grenadian leader remains “in touch and in tune” with the Grenadian population.
“The result also shows that in these challenging times, the electorate was not willing to go with a relatively inexperienced and unproved opposition, led largely by an individual who clearly did not inspire the nation enough for it to fall in line behind his policies,” Skerrit said.
The opposition party was led into the election by the former finance minister, Nazim Burke.
Skerrit, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, said he also believes that the results were “consistent with a global trend of rewarding efforts and side-lining generalities, especially from challengers, whose track record, or lack thereof, does not lend to the sustenance of voter confidence”.
“This is no doubt an extra-ordinary historic achievement by Dr. Mitchell and his New National Party and I wish him the very best and extend hearty congratulations to him and his party and the people of Grenada”.
Skerrit said that the experience of Mitchell has been a valuable tool in helping the region “and in this very difficult climate we are dealing with, all sorts of attacks from different quarters of the world…experienced leadership is certainly needed and will be needed for the next several years in the Caribbean”.
Today, the NDC, through its Chairman, Vincent Roberts, congratulated the governing New National Party (NNP) for its “resounding victory” in the election, here.
“As Chairman of the NDC, let me congratulate the New National Party for a resounding victory at the March 13 general elections. The people have spoken and we now move forward to building a better nation. To all the victors, we salute you,” the NDC chairman said, in a message posted on the party’s website.
He told the defeated candidates that while “our plans, programs and ideas may have been rejected, you were not; hold your head high and join hands with all Grenadians to build our country. Grenada needs you as much as it ever did”.
“To our youth, do not be daunted. Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit,” he added.
But, Roberts said, “many of the most successful men this world has ever known, have said that their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.
“Do not give up. Stick to your values and work for the good of our country, always putting people first. We fought a good fight, now it’s time for unity and determination to see a better Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.”
NDC leader, Nazim Burke, in a congratulatory message to Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, said he had tried, unsuccessfully, to phone him on Tuesday night, but wanted to “wish him and the government all the best”.
Mitchell has not given any indication as to the composition of his new Cabinet or when the members would be sworn in.