Elections… What Elections?
Some see the signs of pending early elections; others say this is nonsense
One leading government spokesman disdainfully dismissed it with one long "stuuups" before asking, "where is this nonsense coming from?"
But for some on the ground, including perennial government critic Arthie Martin, "there's going to be an election this year. Everything I see points in that direction".
According to Martin, there are obvious signs, the most obvious of which are "a late night convoy of building material" from Windsor Park to various parts of the island, presumably in an exercise to attract votes.
"It's about positioning the handouts," he contends.
The local hotelier also points to "the determined efforts" to have the prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit's image and name wherever possible, including at a recent national consultation images of the prime minister "hugging people" were being projected on a big screen near the head table, even while other speakers were at the lectern.
"The only thing missing is the big billboard," he says. "So it's very, very clear to me that everything is already geared in that direction [of any election]."
Martin also alleges that there is an "anxious search" for candidates in some constituencies, including Castle Bruce, where he says the sitting representative, Johnson Drigo, is vulnerable.
He speculates that former representative Loreen Bannis will be asked to return to contest the seat, which means she will have to be recalled as the ambassador to the United Nations in New York. Bannis represented the constituency from 2000 to2009, winning the seat on a United Workers Party ticket before crossing the floor. After quitting elective politics in December 2009, she resettled in the United States Virgin Islands, from where she functioned as liaison officer for Diaspora affairs - a post critics saw as nothing more than naked cronyism – before her rise to UN ambassador in August 2016.
In addition to Castle Bruce, Martin claims the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) is frantically searching for candidates for both Roseau North and South, with a view to ensuring that all is in place for a poll, possibly right after the island's 40th anniversary of independence.
One DLP faithful who worked closely with former prime minister O.J. Seraphine, is among those in support of an early poll.
According to the person, Seraphine made a mistake when he ignored the advice of those closest to him, as well as pressure from the opposition, and refused to call an election in the months immediately following Hurricane David in August 1979, choosing a July 1980 poll instead.
At the time, Seraphine was facing many of the same criticisms that Skerrit currently faces, including allegations that he was using hurricane relief supplies as campaign material.
However, one person close to Skerrit has told The Sun an election will not be held anytime soon.
"They don't even know who is on the ground, they don't know who has left, whether the people are coming back, and until you can establish that it would not be of benefit to do that," according to the source, who requested anonymity because the person was not authorised to discuss this matter.
A similar view was shared by Peter Wickham, the Barbadian political scientist who, in the past, has done polling for the DLP. "I think it's highly unlikely," he told The Sun in relation to an early election." I don't know what would be gained politically from doing it."
In a sense, Martin agrees, stressing that the situation on the ground in the wake of Hurricane Maria is much too dire to put people through an election.
"To call an election under these conditions would normally be suicide," he argues, "but they have saved a lot of the building material [to give out]," he charges.
But for the government spokesman, it's nothing but a big, long "stuuups".