Roseau, Dominica (TDN)
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica was on Tuesday night struggling to come to terms with his political future following a stinging rebuke at the polls. The ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) registered a 14 percent decline, or a loss in excess of 2400 votes in the 15 constituencies where the vote was held.
On 18 November 2022 six constituencies were declared for the ruling DLP, after their candidates were nominated unopposed. However, sixteen independent candidates were nominated in the other 15 constituencies, thus forcing the vote, which took place on Tuesday 6 December 2022.
The big winner for the night was the United Workers Party whose leaders asked their supporters to boycott the polls following the refusal of the Prime Minister to enact much needed electoral reforms. The country maintains a bloated electoral list of close to 75 000 persons, which exceeds the population of some 72 000. In the past elections the UWP have accused the DLP of widespread voter fraud, bribery and cheating, which had made it all but impossible for the party to gain majority votes.
Preliminary official numbers released by the Dominica Electoral Office show that only 3 256 voters cast their ballots for the independent candidates against the DLP. However, this was enough to give election night victories to Independent candidates Jesma Paul and Chris Charles of the Salisbury and Marigot constituencies respectively, representing two of the three seats previously held by the United Workers Party (UWP).
On election day, over 98 percent of the UWP supporters heeded their Leaders calls to boycott the election thus dealing a telling blow to the legitimacy of the elections. At the same time, 15 064 voters cast their ballot in support of the DLP in the 15 constituencies, compared to 17 475 in 2022, representing a 14 percent decline in support.
It is widely believed that the more than two thousand DLP supporters stayed away from the polls either in solidarity with the UWP or in protest against the Prime Minister’s decision to call elections two and a half years before they were constitutionally due and with the Party riding on an 18 -3 majority in the country’s Parliament. The numbers could also represent the absence of a large number of overseas voters. Overall the voter turnout was estimated at 30 percent compared to 55 percent in 2019.
Following the election results a subdued Prime Minister Skerrit promised to meet with the two winning independent candidates as well as all the other independent candidates who participated in the polls. He also promised to meet with the newly elected leader of the UWP, telling listeners of the local radio staion DBS that “of course, I will meet with the leader of the United Workers Party to discuss with him some of his views where the country is concerned,” he said.