PRIME MINISTER Dr Ralph Gonsalves says he has not given “any real thought to the altered targets for elections,” amid concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic may have altered his plans for announcing a date for the general elections later this year.
General elections are constitutionally due by March 2021, but Gonsalves has said in the past that voters will be given the opportunity of electing a new government ahead of the three-month grace period allowed for in the constitution.
The ruling Unity Labour Party, which came to power in 2001, and the main opposition New Democratic Party had been staging political events prior to March 11, when the island recorded its first case of COVID-19 that subsequently led to the country, like other Caribbean islands, imposing measures to curb the spread of the virus for which there is no cure or vaccine.
Gonsalves, when asked how he felt the pandemic might affect the timing of the elections, replied: “It has often been said that one week is a long time in politics, and I haven’t given any real thought to the altered targets for elections.”
But he disclosed that he had held discussions with Opposition Leader Dr Godwin Friday and had drafted a letter to the governor general regarding the appointment of the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
“Under the constitution, if there’s a new census, we have to have the commission meet for a determination,” Gonsalves said, noting that the last report from the EBC is in excess of eight years old.
“As you know, in 2010, we had passed a resolution in the parliament to increase the seats from 15 to 17. And that exercise was stalled in the court,” Gonsalves said, adding that “the 2015 election was concluded on the basis of the 15 seats”.