Left, blue of UWP and right, red of DLP
Left, blue of UWP and right, red of DLP

Some people firmly believe that the election of 2020 is already decided and that the United Workers Party (UWP) has already won. They should hold their horses. Determining who will win an election is not easy given the many variables that one has to consider.

However, the fickleness of prophesying an election did not deter a leader of an evangelical church from telling the Sun Newspaper that he knows the results of the upcoming election because God has spoken to him. Last week, he directed a Sun's reporter to "write that down and after the election call me to tell me how accurate I was."

His conjectures are as follows. UWP will win 12 seats: Roseau Central; Roseau Valley; Roseau South; Roseau North; Marigot; Grand Fond; LaPlaine; Salybia; St. Joseph; Castle Bruce and Salisbury. And the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) will win nine seats and therefore lose control of the government. According to his forecast, the DLP will win: Grand Bay; Portsmouth; Cottage; Paix Bouche; Vielle Case; Colihaut; Soufriere; Mahaut and Petite Savanne.

But our clairvoyant preacher was unsure of whether Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit would win Vielle Case or whether the United Workers Party {UWP) would take the Kalinago Territory from the DLP. That effectively wrecked his argument that God spoke to him about the results of the election. Yes, God speaks to modern man but these conversations with God are usually mere voices in the person's own heads influenced by neurosis and, furthermore, God is never unsure of the future, so there should be no question marks in God's so-called word about the election outcome in Vielle Case or the Kalinago Territory.

But the point is there are many stories now in the public domain about bells tolling and for whom. Nonetheless, we believe the up-coming elections, whenever it is called, will be the most consequential in our post-independence history, the most violent, the most divisive and the most expensive ever. Although politicians may publicly condemn bad behaviour during the campaign, it is the rabid supporter, of both sides, who will attempt to create mayhem if his party appears to be losing.

In fact the anticipation of mayhem, as occurred in the wake of Hurricane Maria, appears to be the motive that recently drew a group of businessmen and civil society together. The group wrote in its report that it released two weeks ago that it is "concerned that, given the unfinished business of necessary electoral reform, should the general election be held with the public perception that its outcome did not reflect the desire of the majority of the eligible voters, there is chance that civil unrest and disturbances may ensue in the country.

"Hence our efforts have been, and still are, to attain some reasonable compromise that will resonate well towards the overall interest of our beloved country in facilitating the holding of a general election which will usher in a government in a peaceful environment wherein citizens accept the outcome as the desire of the majority of the eligible voters and turn their attention to the building and growth of our nation".

So the issue of electoral reform, or the lack of it, may be a major factor in the election although traditionally elections are not won and lost in our democracy on issues except in rare conditions, says Jamaica Gleaner columnist Martin Henry.

We are of the view that Dominican elections are won by the party that can best mobilize supporters on to the voters list to go out to the polling station on Election Day and not by the party with the best programmes as outlined in a glossy manifesto. Do not believe the political propaganda, from all sides, that any one party will be able to create these thousands of jobs and double-digit growth in the short to medium term. And do not hold much faith in the current government's ability to accomplish in "five more years" what it could not achieve in 20, unless the government is prepared to admit that it has been extremely lazy for two decades. In fact, whichever party wins the next election Dominicans should brace themselves for hard times because an economy based almost exclusively on the sale of passports is not sustainable; the Caribbean Central Bank has told us so.

But almost everyone agrees that after 20 years in power the DLP is more than a little bit tired. Hey, that was the rationale for Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's almost complete cleanup of his team at the Londonderry rally in February. He said he was responding to calls for change.

But we are hoping that this election more than a few voters will carefully weigh the issues, examine track records, scrutinize manifestos, demand position statements from candidates and vote for the candidate that they assess can best advance the development and the broader interests of their constituency. That is what we hope.

But in the final analysis the vast majority of our voters will vote on what is called "belly issues"; they will calculate their prospects of continuing to eat three meals a day, getting water in their pipes, having a bad stretch of road in their community repaired and securing a handout. Then they will vote accordingly.

And the ruling party, the DLP, knows that well. If you do not believe this just take a look at the "new Grand Fond road" paved and repaired just for the launching of the DLP candidate, Gretta Roberts.

But in the final analysis ruling parties lose elections because after decades votes are generally disenchanted with the same personalities and prescriptions, with the same failures and unfulfilled promises, with excessive political patronage and widespread corruption, with inefficiency and waste, with a bloated bureaucracy and especially with a ridiculously large cabinet in a country battered by hurricanes and tropical storms and a perennially comatose economy.