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.
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.