Grenada's parliamentary elections will be held on Tuesday amid the memory of a bright, yet short-lived chapter of the country's history. While March 13 is the day voters cast their ballots to elect a new prime minister, it also marks the 39th anniversary of the New Jewel Movement's bloodless revolution, which was led by Maurice Bishop, an event that galvanized the nation behind a Pan-African verve of self-determination.
This year's election begs the question: will Grenadians choose continuity or change in the face of significant national challenges.
While forty-five candidates have been nominated for the parliamentary elections, the two men, who could be Prime Minister - Opposition Leader Nazim Burke and incumbent Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell - couldn't hold more opposing views on the country's current issues and how to solve them.
Grenada's main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress, or NDC, is calling for a greater focus on jobs, development and the economy. Burke, the party's leader, says they have nominated a group of “capable, serious, independent-minded” candidates to focus on solving issues in these areas.
Mitchell, on the other hand, who could be re-elected if his New National Party, or NNP, takes home the majority of constituencies, has expressed confidence in his government and what it has done to build a strong foundation of hope among the people.
Mitchell has admitted that more could be done to help build a more robust healthcare and housing system, as well as boost the economy of the future.
“A modern society must make sure the people who contribute to its development, must be cared for when they retire. And that’s why, as difficult as it is, the resumption of pensions is not just an economic responsibility – but one of the moral responsibilities of our time,” he said in a recent rally.
Mitchell has also promised that “national health insurance,” a program aimed at improving health care, could be introduced across the board soon.
In regard to the the country's economic health, Mitchell has said: “This new economy involves the use of technology, from the jobs to the way we go about our lives and we have done a lot in the area of technology and the education of our people; but there are some things that we have to take more seriously.”
Overall, Mitchell believes that the NNP will maintain parliamentary control and he'll regain his office for a second term.
Peter Wickham, head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services, or Cadres, and respected regional pollster predicted a victory for the ruling NNP in this year's election. The NNP, for its part, has warned voters that they shouldn't become complacent, believing that “the arty has won already.”
On Sunday, the NDC and NPP both held massive rallies in the lead up to elections. The winners of Grenada's elections are based on the number of constituencies secured rather than the total of popular votes.
Mitchell scheduled the general election for March 13; a date that holds special meaning for many Grenadians as it recalls the rise of Bishop to political power.
However, the Grenadian Revolution only lasted just four years. Bishop, three cabinet members, and four colleagues were executed by a faction of the NJM. Days later, the United States, accompanied by its junior Caribbean partners, invaded the island under the pretext of providing safety to U.S. medical students.
Until this day, the remains of Bishop and his colleagues who were lined against a wall and gunned down have never been found. Their families were never given a chance to hold a proper burial for their loved ones.