It is Monday, 11th July, Election Day in the 36 square mile island of Nevis, which constitutes a twin island federation with 68 square mile St. Kitts.
History will record the 2011 campaign as perhaps the most divisive and fiercely fought in the island’s political life. The race is a straight fight between the incumbent Nevis Reformation Party, NRP, headed by Premier Joseph Parry, and the opposition Concerned Citizens Movement, CCM, of former Premier Vance Amory.
Though the present population of the island is estimated to be 10,000-12,000, there are over 9,000 registered voters; quite a number of whom presently do not reside on island.
The NRP, which took office on 10th July, 2006, has tried to make the case for its re-election. It said that its high level of performance has transformed the island. It presents, as evidence, the exploration for geothermal energy, the establishment of a wind farm, improvements in the water supply, improved roads, human resource development and the construction of housing.
The CCM, on the other hand, which held office between 1992 and 2006, has accused the ruling administration of being self-centered, caring more about their personal affairs than that of the people of the island. They accuse the NRP of nepotism, corruption, giving away the resources of the island to foreigners, high cost of living and surrendering the autonomy of the island to the Labour Party on St. Kitts.
CCM described the poll as “One of the most critical elections being contested in our history.” They said that they are “Trying to restore confidence, hope and dignity, all of which were eroded by an avalanche of mismanagement since 2006”.
Political observers on the island are of the view that the hate and aggression displayed during the campaign have forever changed the political culture of the island, making the society even more polarized than St. Kitts.
They also shared the view that given the unhealthy atmosphere of the 2011 elections, it would be even more difficult now for the islanders to form consensus for secession.
Monday’s poll sees both parties fielding five candidates for the respective electoral districts as follows:
Constituency #1 (St. Pauls)
Robelto Hector- NRP (incumbent-defeated Perkins in 2006)
Total number of voters: 1,827
Constituency #2 St. John
Hensley Daniel-NRP (incumbent)
Total number of voters: 3,261
Constituency #3 St. George
Vance Amory-CCM (incumbent)
Total number of voters: 1,281
Constituency #4 St. James
Alexis Jeffers-CCM (Newcomer, replacing Jean Harris the incumbent)
Total number of voters: 1,942
Constituency #5 St. Thomas
Joseph Parry-NRP (incumbent)
Total number of voters: 944
Most political pundits believe that each party is certain of retaining one seat each. Both Parry and Amory are expected to win their seats without much hindrance. The key fights are expected in St. John and St. Paul. CCM has won the St. James seat since 1992 but strong efforts are being made by the NRP to reverse that trend.
The polls were opened at 7:00am and are due to close at 6:00pm today Monday.