Dominica' s presidential election campaign
Call it brazen, barefaced and blatant. Call it unabashed, even.
"It's the most unashamedly presidential of presidential campaigns I have seen in a long time. There was no hiding it," observed Peter Wickham, the Barbados pollster and political scientist.
Critics might call it an over-excessive case of self-indulgence and pomposity. Wickham also called it smart.
"I think it made sense. The polls showed (Roosevelt) Skerrit is more popular than the Labour Party."
And more popular than the man fighting for Skerrit's job, Lennox Linton, the political leader of the United Workers Party (UWP).
Therefore, Wickham told The Sun in a review of the campaign, the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) made the election a contest between the leaders, as was evident in the party's manifesto in which Skerrit featured prominently. The presidential nature of the campaign was also quite evident in the language that the prime minister used on the political platform. For example, at the launch of the DLP's campaign, Skerrit used "I" repeatedly when talking about the government's achievements, and he even went as far as accepting responsibility for his MPs failures.
"I had to provide for your children at school and the state college. I had to keep the school bus service running for the little ones. I had to maintain PMH to a satisfactory standard until the new, state of the art hospital is constructed and functional. I had to keep the farmers motivated and endowed in the face of adversity," he told the crowd of jubilant supporters. "If what you wanted to be done was not accomplished within the last five years, do not blame it on your Parl Rep, as Minister of Finance, I was responsible."
Both the 2005 and 2009 campaigns also had a presidential feel to them, but nothing like this year's election, noted Wickham, who noticed a lack of "subtlety" this time around.
"This is the third presidential campaign which they ran (but) it has gone on such a level, they have ramped it up a bit…there is no subtlety to it this time. The posters, the launch, the manifesto," he told The Sun.
In the 17-20 October poll conducted for the DLP by Wickham's Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), the level of support for Skerrit (63 per cent) was 20 percentage points higher than that of the DLP (43 per cent). Linton, on the other hand, received 37 per cent support, while the UWP scored 30 per cent.
These figures would have influenced the DLP's campaign, Wickham suggested.
"Certainly the poll data suggest the logic of the campaign that is run on this basis."
While admitting that the DLP's campaign hasn't changed much since 2005, Crispin Gregoire, the former ambassador to the United Nations and lifelong Laborite - until he threw his support behind the UWP in this election – believed it was the lack of performance that forced the incumbent to make it a one-on-one contest.
"These guys played the same election campaign for the last two elections. That's what they are playing over. They are not dealing with issues. You don't have to go fishing for issues. They have not really performed (and) time has caught up with them. They have (had) 15 years," he told The Sun.
Meanwhile, the UWP sought to make a clear distinction by promoting a team message, even referring to themselves as "Team Dominica," while painting Skerrit as a dictator bathed in immorality and perniciousness. Wickham said he was not surprised.
"From what I've seen of it, I think it was predictable," he said of the UWP's campaign. "First they had to respond to the Labour Party's presidential style and they had to respond to a campaign where they could not compete dollar for dollar. So it was predictable. You do what you can and hope for the best."
Wickham would not hazard a guess as to how much was spent on the campaign, but he noted that it was "a very expensive" one, particularly by the DLP.
"What I can tell you it's nothing like the previous campaigns. The number of meetings, the international artistes, it's millions," he said.