Peter Wickham, the Barbadian political scientist, says Skerrit should see the coming elections as his last
He's been flying high on the love of the common people, he's been rising on the backs of the ordinary citizen; he's reached new levels on the devotion of infinitely seducible Dominicans.
But now, just when Roosevelt Skerrit appears to have convinced himself of his inviolable right to be "king" of this domain, just when he is preparing to sing hymns of praise to his own genius, just when the common people are getting set to demonstrate if the love is still there, the prime minister is being advised that he must not hang around much longer.
"I think he should consider making it (the next election) his last," said Peter Wickham, the Barbadian political scientist who has conducted several polls for Skerrit's Dominica Labour Party (DLP).
There have been no obvious choruses of woe coming from the faithful – although you can hear the choir singing protest songs getting louder. But Wickham, a vocal proponent of term limits, suggested that the common people on whose shoulders Skerrit rides, can easily sag under the grandiose weight of leaders who stay on too long. "It's consistent with my view that the leader should be limited to two terms," Wickham told The Sun. "A prime minister should not go beyond two terms."
Roosevelt Skerrit is the miracle who made it possible for the DLP to dominate electoral politics here over the past 10 years. He charms the nation with his boyish appearance, escapes with episodes of youthful unpredictability and stays afloat through wisps of luck and lots of cunning Machiavellianism. He's the miracle that makes it possible for the DLP to still believe that it will keep dominating despite the rebirth of what was up to recently the moribund opposition. Those close to the DLP leader are convinced – and the polls support them – that he is bigger than the party. Therefore, one insider told The Sun, it would take another miracle for the party to survive his departure.
"Skerrit is by far the most popular person (in Dominica). I don't see Labour Party winning without him. People [are] winning their seats because of Skerrit, people who should lose, win because of him," said this person who spoke on the usual condition of anonymity because of his position and because he is not authorised to speak for the DLP. "If Skerrit leaves the party's chances will be weak."
There is nothing to suggest that Skerrit plans to quit. However, one of his closest advisers has "echoed that sentiment," a source close to the prime minister told The Sun.
"He's come around to term limits," the source said of the adviser. "His thing is…he doesn't see who will take over from Skerrit."
It's a concern raised by the DLP insider who suggested that while the United Workers Party (UWP) has presented a list of strong individual, all capable of leading, the current group of government MPs lack the skills and charisma to lead. However, Wickham did not see this as an issue.
"A leader can emerge," he said, making reference to the situation in St. Lucia in the mid-1990s, when the United Workers Party (Vaughn Lewis) and the St. Lucia Labour Party (Kenny Anthony) both went outside their normal political circles to find leaders.
Skerrit has come up in support of term limits in the past, but not in reference to the political leadership. Delivering the David Thompson Memorial Lecture at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in October 2011, the prime minister recommended term limits for the secretary general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
"New vitality and dynamism must be injected (into CARICOM)," he said in the lecture entitled, The Future of Caricom and Regional Integration. "This must be initiated from the top, and I see it as important that we institute a set term for the post of the Secretary General. I would recommend a limit of two terms lasting four years." Wickham, who attended the lecture, recalls that the prime minister also added that the issue of political leadership needs to be treated differently.
By the end of the next parliamentary term –if he wins the election he would have been prime minister for some 15 years – Skerrit will still be younger than many people seeking their first term as their country's leader. This would place him in the peculiar position of having to quit because of term limits, while still in his 40s.
"He is so young, why would this be his last election?" the DLP insider asked. "When a man leaves politics at the age of 40 (he'll be 42 on 8 June) what does he do? What happens to him?"
Wickham agrees it's "a peculiar position" but maintains the prime minister's youth ought not determine how long he stays on.
"Regardless of the age there should be a principle established," he told The Sun. "It's not about the age, it's about a person holding a position like that and the power they have."
The opposition repeatedly accuses Skerrit of moral myopia, his leadership nothing more than a Feydeau farce. As far as they're concerned, he can go to France. Now, rather than after the next election, even if he continues to bask in the love of the common people.