Former Prime Minister, Sir James Mitchell. (iWN file photo)

Founder of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), Sir James Mitchell, is calling on his party to forget about its challenge of the results of the December 2015 general elections.

He said this is one of the points of contention between him and the party — with which he has had a strained relationship for years.

“In my book, as I have said before and I will say it again: elections are won on election night,” the former prime minister and retired politician said on Xtreme FM on Tuesday.

“Name me the time that elections were won in the court. It doesn’t happen,” said Sir James, who in 2010 said that he does not trust even Jesus Christ with an election until the results are announced.

Sir James led the NDP shortly after its founding in 1975 until October 2000, five months before elections in March 2001, which the party lost — as was widely anticipated.

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The NDP is challenging the results of the election in Central Leeward and North Windward and the court is expected to hear in St. Lucia next Tuesday, an appeal of a decision by the High Court to throw out the petitions as improperly filed.

Election officials say that the Unity Labour Party won the elections and a four consecutive term in office by taking eight of the 15 parliamentary seats, while the remaining seven went to the NDP — a repeat of the 2010 election results.

The NDP is hoping that, through the court process, it will either be declared winner of those seats or that the court will order fresh elections in those districts.

Sir James noted that he has been an international observer of elections.

He said that he understands that in the election in Central Leeward, that the NDP agents signed on to the results in the various polling stations.

“The second day, there was a final count and the duly authorised agent or the candidate himself signed on with the final count.”

He said that to overturn an election in the court, evidence is required to the extent that that evidence would have affected the results.

“Because, number one, the privacy of the ballot has to remain in tact, otherwise the democratic processes collapse. And who in St. Vincent, as an agent, would go before the court, facing a battery of lawyers, swear by Almighty God that you will speak the whole truth and then give evidence of election fraud, knowing that if you don’t come right and lying to the court is jail for you? — Not for the candidate. Why should a party want to put its agents in that peril when it had already signed on to the results.”

Sir James noted that he doesn’t know what the courts will decide.

“But one thing I know, the courts can’t say is that ULP lost the seat and when you are finished an election, in my book, number one, you have to concede defeat.”

He said that even in sports the losing player or team congratulates each other, expect in boxing — because the loser is “down on the ground and he can’t move”.

He said leader must also take responsibility for the defeat.

Sir James aid that when he was speaking at the last convention before elections in St. Lucia, he called on Allen Chastanet, leader of the then opposition United Workers Party to announce publicly that if he led the party to defeat he would offer to resign the same night.

The UWP won and Chastanet is now Prime Minister of St. Lucia.

Sir James noted that his successor, Member of Parliament for East Kingstown, Arnhim Eustace — who has since exited the leadership of the NDP — lost four elections.

“Did he concede defeat every time? Did he offer to resign every time? Look at the traditions of politics. You see, my problem with a lot of people, I am at heart a democrat and I want the democratic process to thrive in this country.

I don’t mind people having success, because I know how to defeat them,” said Sir James, who campaigned with the NDP in 2001, 2005 and 2010, when it also lost.

5 replies on “Founder says NDP should forget about election petitions”

  1. Looks like Sir James is a great ULP supporter. Although he is right that it may never have happened that an election is overturned afterwards, I think he is wrong believing that the NDP should accept it. It has been proven that the ULP cheated in the Central Leeward if not elsewhere as well, but if the NDP do nothing they will certainly lose supporters. I would not feel good if the party I chose to support were a bunch of wimps. Because the NDP did not contest previous election fraud in previous elections that has emboldened the ULP to continue. With the control of the elections the ULP can stay in office for hundreds of years no matter how much they destroy the economy and pass draconian laws such as the Cyber Bill. In my opinion Sir James should close his mouth, I certainly would not support the NDP if such a loser had much control in the party. The only reason he got into office in the first place was because of a fluke. In truth he is a loser and just as out of touch as many other self- centered politicians. The NDP will be better off if they pay no attention to him. He is out of office and still wants to control everything.

  2. What Sir James says is correct, and shows insight. Accordingly it seems that to have insight and display common sense being capable of rational thought mean that you’re a supporter of the ULP. Nonsense!
    The petitions in the court were erroneous and ought to have been thrown out by Judge Cottle who we know had the power to do so. Moreover the elections as monitored by the International bodies present and their signing off on the results and victory by the ULP are beyond objections and your dissatisfactions. To make a claim that “…It has been proven that the ULP cheated in the Central Leeward if not elsewhere as well…” Is tantamount to falsity and lies. Where is the proof? It doesn’t exist! There is no proof to that claim!
    Lostpet, so sorry to say the party that you support might very well be a wimpy bunch…, not because of their lack of ability or the will to continue the petition fight, but their overall ability to be an effective opposition party so far. Sir James should know.

  3. C. ben-David says:

    When Sir James says, “Name me the time that elections were won in the court. It doesn’t happen,” he seems to be correct as far as the Caribbean is concerned but not as far as other parts of the world are concerned where elections results have very occasionally been overturned by the courts. (Here is one recent example: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/07/01/austrian-court-overturns-presidential-election-result/86589342/ ).

    Overall, however, this process is rare because the courts are usually reluctant to interfere in changing the results unless large-scale and deliberate fraud has been conclusively demonstrated.

    Since the two election results in SVG do not fall into this category and since there is no precedence for overturning Caribbean election results, at least during the post-independence era, and since the Court has an easy out here by using procedural law — the petitions were improperly filed — both petitions will both be denied.

  4. Utter nonsense. Disappointed that James would give voice to this. Has he forgotten 1966-1967 or thereabouts?

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