A handful of people listened Thursday night as the fledgling Democratic Republican Party (DRP) explained at a rally in Arnos Vale why it should be chosen to govern St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) ahead of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
DRP leader and West St. George candidate, Anesia Baptiste, explained the name of the party, saying that some persons have dismissed the DRP as “crazy”, noting that the Democrats and Republicans in the United States are different.
“But what they do not know and do not understand, and what I want you to understand, my dear people, is that democratic republicanism has to do with a very important philosophy of governance,” Baptiste said.
She said the 3-year-old party believes in “the method of democracy”.
Baptiste, a former NDP senator who was fired by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace in 2011 after 15 months in the senate, said the DRP believes that when a government is elected by the democratic method, they must rule not only in the interest of the majority who elected them.
“They must rule in the protection of the God-given rights and freedoms of all…” she said.
“And I say that republicanism is needed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because what we have in office today is a government who rules only for Labour, who rules only for those who voted for it,” she said of the ULP, which will seek an unprecedented fourth term in office in elections expected by year-end.
“That’s why they would have had expressions such as ‘Own de Campaign’ and ‘Own de Government’,” she said of ULP slogan before and after the 2010 general elections.
“So the idea is that only those who vote for you would own the state resources and the affairs.”
She said the DRP’s watchwords are “liberty, equality, and development”.
“We say that only when the liberties of the people are respected, their rights and freedoms, only when there is equality for all under the law then we will have the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Baptiste said.
The DRP’s watch phrases include “people’s participatory power”.
“… at the DRP, we believe that you the people have the power in your hands and you must be allowed to participate in governance. You are not just there as voting cattle — as some have said. You are not just there to rubberstamp a particular individual into office.”
She said that the United States says in its Declaration of Independence that a government attains power by the consent of the governed.
“So, if you the people are the ones who consent for people to govern, then how come after election they don’t take your consideration and your ideas into account? How come you are not allowed to participate in governance?
“It makes no sense,” Baptiste said, adding that the DRP is prepared to facilitate people’s participation in governance.
Another watch phrase is “new hope from service to the people”.
“That’s what government is about. It is about serving the people. It is not about serving yourself; it is not about going there to enrich yourself while the poor becomes poorer still.”
Baptiste said she is offering herself as a candidate because she believes she has what it takes “to serve your interest genuinely.
“And with your participation and your co-operation, I believe we can address the things that concern and affect you in this constituency and in these areas.”
Batiste spoke of the work she has done, for example in the area of Arnos Vale known as Pole Yard.
She said that some persons have lived in the community for up to 25 years, but it was not until 2011, when she — then a senator — went to Pole Yard with a camera and broadcast the situation on TV that the government rushed to give residents pipe-borne water.
“That kind of neglect for so many years, that kind of insensitivity for basic human rights is enough for people of Pole Yard and West St. George to vote no and register a punishment vote against the constituency representative of West St. George today and the ULP,” she said.
“… And then you say ‘Labour Loves You’,” Baptiste said, quoting a ULP slogan for the 2015 election.
“My foot! Love worketh no ill to his neighbour, the Bible says. Love respects your rights and freedoms, and had they had true love for you all the time, they would have ensured that you got the water long time.
Baptiste said that while she was not the area representative and did not have access to state funds, as a senator, she used creative ways to pressure the authorities to act in the interest of the people.
“And if I could do that now, not being in government, you can imagine what Anesia Baptiste will do if you give her your vote, if you put her X next to the heart for me and vote me into office as your area representative for West St. George. Imagine how much more I will do, because I truly care.”
She said constituents should not allow themselves to be bribed by being given things that they may very well need.
“Because if you give up your conscience for bribes, I assure you, you would lose much more in the long-run.
“… I am begging you, do not allow politicians to bribe you for votes. Do not allow them to cause you to destroy your conscience. You know the wickedness, you know the neglect you have suffered, and you know they don’t deserve to go back there.
“So vote them out! Vote out the ULP, Vote out Mr. McKie out of West St. George for their neglect and register a supporting vote for the DRP by putting your X next to the heart for Anesia Baptiste in West St. George,” she said.
Political analysts say that the elections will be a straight race between the ULP and the NDP and that the DRP and the SVG Green Party are unlikely to have an impact on the outcome of the polls.