THE ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is just one month away from celebrating four years into its current term as government. Its tenure thus far has been plagued with three consecutive years of fiscal deficit and criticism from the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and others that Labour has virtually borrowed – and burrowed – itself and the country into huge debt.
With a national debt currently estimated at $2.7 billion, many question whether this government has been able to justify such borrowing. Some critics point to high unemployment, two unfinished hospitals and major investors seemingly shying away from Saint Lucia — a land that offers so many possibilities — as anomalies.
Understandably, the upcoming general elections, which many are predicting would be held in about thirteen months’ time, has a lot riding on it. Voters will have to decide whether the government’s creation of 5,000 jobs under its National Initiative to Create Employment (NICE), wide-ranging road repairs, schools laptop programme and other social programmes warrant another five years in office. Either that option or giving the UWP another chance at the helm to redeem itself from its last five years in office, much of which was plagued with internal issues.
In case you missed it, the political campaigns have already begun in both SLP and UWP camps. The television ads are ubiquitous and more politically-charged than usual. As to whether both political parties will be able to fund and maintain their ad campaigns until the general elections remains to be seen. After all, the UWP did blame their November 28, 2011 loss at the polls on not maintaining the momentum to the very end.
Some political analysts are already anticipating a cutthroat political campaign from both major political parties. Understandably, both parties have outstanding scores to settle with each other. If one paid close attention to the debate in Parliament these days, it becomes clear that hardly a House meeting goes by without an MP insinuating that his or her party intends to do this or that when they retain or regain power.
To the average Saint Lucian, it all comes down to the number of votes counted on elections day. However, that culture needs to change. How so? By demanding now – there’s still time to do it – that men and women who really are serious and passionate about serving the electorate are selected.
By now, Saint Lucians should know who their candidate choices for the next general elections are. That way, such candidates can be vetted to ensure that no skeletons fall out of the closets afterwards. Also, one would not have to go through five years of complaining that instead of voting for better, they simply voted.