ST. VINCENT:- Prime Minister-elect Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has acknowledged that his Unity Labour Party’s 8-7 victory in Monday’s general elections is “a slim one” and has told the nation that he will pay more attentive attention to what citizens are saying.
“… I will listen very attentively. I do listen and I do listen well. I will interpret what you see very keenly. You will see me on the streets far more than you have seen me over the last five years. I will be in communion with you,” Gonsalves said in an address around 11 p.m. Monday night shortly after election official announce the preliminary results.
Gonsalves said that while the victory, was “statically” slim, his party had won 51.61 per cent of the votes, adding that when Barack Obama won the United State presidency with a similar margin, “it was acclaimed that he had a landslide”.
“…we will not be human if we don’t feel really happy at this achievement,’ he said noted that he intended to spend some time Monday night celebrating with supporter.
The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Arnhim Eustace, has sunk its claws further into the Parliament, wrestling from the ULP four of the seats it won in the 2001 and 2005 elections and moving its margin to seven
Preliminary results show that the ULP got 27,648 votes or 51.61 per cent of the popular votes while the NDP garnered 26,231 ballots or 47.78 per cent. The Green Party mustered 123 votes, a mere 0.21 per cent.
The results indicate that 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.
Gonsalves said that he will call on the Governor General on Wednesday to take the Oath of Office for a third time while former education minister and constituency representative for Marriaqua, Girlyn Miguel, will be sworn in as deputy prime minister.
The prime minister-elect said that he will ask public servant Judith Jones Morgan to continue as attorney general, adding, “And then, later in the week, we will see how the whole cabinet shapes.”
Tuesday has been declared a public holiday and Gonsalves and his ULP will return to the Argyle international airport construction site to celebrate their victory.
He called on the NDP to join in the celebrations, saying that the multi-island nation, which has been in campaign mode for more than a year, “has seen a lot of divisiveness and bitterness, perhaps even hatred.
“I am homing that now we have this contest behind we can have a time for healing and for cooperation. I know in our competitive politics it is often difficult to cooperate but the honourable members on the opposition will know that there is more which unites us that divides us. I reach out, as I did in 2001, as I did in 2005, but it takes two to tango. If the opposition does respond appropriately then we will see but we have a government to run,” the 64-year-old leader said.
“I am asking those who don’t like the comrade. I am asking those who whatever reasons of vanity or I am standing in your way, look, the people have spoken. Forget about many of the things you say about me. Many of the falsehoods; let us try to see if we can work together for better for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I am prepared to give it a chance, but, like we say, it takes two hands to clap, it takes two dancers to tango,” he said.
“I promise to listen even more keenly that ever before. You have owned the campaign. I want you, the members of this community who voted for the ULP, who owned the campaign, to join those who did not vote for the ULP for all of us together to own the government,” Gonsalves said.
He also promised citizens “to assist you in empowering yourself even more than ever before,” adding, “Important tasks lie ahead of us. We are still in the throes of a very, very difficult economic situation externally.”
In inviting the opposition to the celebrations, Gonsalves said, “This great exercise in democracy, it is alive and well. It is thriving and we have all contributed immensely to this. So, why not celebrate together. After all, we are Vincentians”.
Gonsalves told public servants that they will be paid on Dec. 20 and although he admitted that he needed some rest, he noted that the budget is constitutionally due by the end of January.
“You see I have to get to work to build upon the work we have done before the Parliament was dissolved and the elections were called,” he said
He said that even though his party triumphed it must not be “triumphalist”.
“Whatever we do, we must reflect carefully and we do so in humility and always in the best interest of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.
Gonsalves thanked his coming staff, electoral official and observers for their various roles in conductiong the polls.
He, however said his children, “as, indeed are all children” are his inspiration.
“They are the ones I have these bags under my eyes and my grey beard. I promise that I shall provide five more years of leadership, God’ willing…
“In 2001, we won these eight seats rock solid and the four marginals. In 2005, we did the same thing. On this occasion, there was a small swing against us, we lost the four marginals. They are easily lost, easily regained. A win is a win and we will proceed to do our work with the people and with the grace of almighty God,” Gonsalves said.