ST.VINCENT:-The Unity Labour Party (ULP) led by Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, 64, won eight of the 15 seats at stake in Monday’s general elections and was returned to office for a historic third consecutive term for a labour government.
The party resisted a tough challenge from the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which increased its hold on the Parliament by winning four seats more than the three it did in the 2001 and 2005 elections.
The ULP bucked the trend in the Caribbean, where, historically, ruling parties have lost general elections after failing in a referendum.
The ULP has also given pundits much to think about, having won the elections without taking any of the Kingstown seats.
According to the preliminary results, the ULP won the Central Leeward, North Windward, North Central Windward, South Central Windward, South Windward, Marriaqua, East St. George and West St. George seats, while the NDP was victorious in the Northern Grenadines, Southern Grenadines, South Leeward, North Leeward, Central Kingstown, West Kingstown, and East Kingstown.
The victory has given Gonsalves the opportunity he said he needed to groom a new generation of ULP leaders and to consolidate some of his party’s policies, including completing the international airport at Argyle.
The elections might have also sealed the faith of NDP leader Arnhim Eustace, who, at 65, has led his party to a third consecutive defeat.
The ULP held on to the eastern corridor of mainland St. Vincent while the NDP won the three Kingstown seats, two of the three leeward seats, on the western side of the St. Vincent, in addition to the two Grenadine seats.
Neither Gonsalves nor Eustace or any of their spokespersons were immediately available for comment after the preliminary results were announced.
But NDP Vice president, St. Claire Leacock, who won the Central Kingstown seat, said on radio that the blame for the loss was a shared one.
He said his party was too slow in responding to what the ULP dubbed an education revolution and the emotionally attachment citizens have to the international airport under construction at Argyle.
Leacock further said that the NDP, by increasing its mandate has been able to buy time, adding that had there been a 12 to 3 result again no one would have wanted to hear about the party for a long time.
He said the party needs to look for “fresh legs”, saying that such persons are around and that the party needs find them.