GENERAL ELECTIONS PREVIEW
No path to victory for the UWP in Dominica
DOMINICA'S opposition United Workers Party will do better than they did in 2009. The problem for UWP however is that this will not be enough.
In a scenario that is becoming unlikely everywhere else in the Caribbean in recent years, the Dominic Labour Party appears to be headed for a fourth successive term in next Monday's general elections.
Statistically and otherwise, the UWP under new leader Lennox Linton has a serious mountain to climb if they are to harbor any thoughts of an unlikely victory.
That mountain is for all practical purposes insurmountable at this time.
If the UWP has a very good day on Monday it can possibly win seven seats -- a bad one can cut that in half.
It may increase the amount of its total national votes from 2009 -- but that is little consolidation in the cruel first-past-the-post system.
However you spin it, or look at it -- none of that scenario spells likely victory in the 21-member seat parliament.
Any possible UWP path to victory appears to be blocked by the sheer weight of the advantage the DLP came into the contest with.
The two biggest challenges for the UWP are (a) leadership and (b) the campaign.
Roosevelt Skerrit has a far higher approval rating than Linton; a fact the Dominican leader understands very well and has exploited skillfully. He has ran an almost presidential style campaign.
In constituencies where candidates are a little more vulnerable, "Skerrit for PM" is the dominant factor.
The DLP has out campaigned in every conceivable form the UWP -- and that could count for something especially in constituencies where the race is tight.
Of course, like in most islands, Dominica is a first past the post. Linton understands if the campaign is ran as a national event, he sinks fast.
The UWP instead has been trying to emphasize "Team Dominica", but its message of change has not received the traction it has hoped; coming up against a strong record of delivery by the incumbent.
There is always a level of unpredictability to every general election -- but while there has some Labour slippage -- about two percent by the finding of one poll -- the UWP deficit is too large to bridge the gap.
UWP can most likely pick up La Plaine, where incumbent Education Minister Petter St Jean is in real trouble in a seat he won by only two votes the last time anyhow.
Grand Fond and Wesley are also likely UWP pick-ups. Roseau North is by most reports is within striking distance as well.
Until 2009 Roseau North was considered a UWP strong-hold. In fact Julius Timothy won it three times as a UWP member, before becoming a fourth time MP last time after having gone over to the DLP.
The UWP hopefuls are also talking about Castle Bruce -- a one-time party strong hold in the 1990s - but DLP should hold on there, though.
Even if the DLP under performs, it is going into Monday's contest with a cushion of about 13 seats it absolutely will win.
We think that in best case scenario, UWP can add four to their current three -- which will take them to seven seats in the new parliament.
The problem with that scenario for UWP though, is that one of their seats -- Roseau Central has to also be regarded as a tossup. A bad night could see them losing it.
In fact the DLP is bullish that Alvin Bernard, who narrowly lost by three votes in 2009, can take the seat this time.
The former Dominica Freedom Party supporters -- just a couple hundreds of them from the last time -- will hold the decisive edge in the city.
Whoever gets the bulk of them will win Roseau Central.
Labour's biggest danger is fatigue, and some disenchantment, that will naturally come, by some supporters who may want to think they had not benefitted enough after two terms.
Prime Minister Skerrit has been sensitive to that.
"Some of you feel aggrieved that you did not get this and you did not get that in the period that Labour has been in office... ," he said the other night. "I empathize with many who share that view. I have spoken harshly to some of my Parl Reps, whom I do not believe has been close to the people as I would have liked. And I have put system in pace to remedy that situation in the next five years," he said.
That next five years can start with a celebration on Monday night.