Landslide? More like a tidal wave

The big story for much of 2019 was the unbelievable landslide 18-3 victory of the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) at the December 6th General Election. The polls predicted a much closer race and the opposition accuses the DLP of importing thousands of Dominicans living in the Diaspora to vote for the party.

Throughout 2019 both the DLP and the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) held almost weekly campaign meetings, launching candidates and manifestos.

There were also frequent demonstrations and marches and meetings demanding, pleading for electoral reform- the cleansing of the voters list and the issuance of ID cards.

The Government of Dominica and the Dominica Electoral Commission did not budge until it was too late- Prime Minister Skerrit called election at least five months earlier than it was constitutionally due. Although a group of church, trade unions and civil society specifically warned the prime minister that there would be chaos in Dominica if he did. Prime Minister Skerrit curbed the potential chaos with the deployment of troops from the Regional Security System.

In the end, the DLP captured 59 per cent of the votes cast (up from 57 per cent in 2014), and the UWP got 41 per cent (down from 43 per cent).

The voter turnout fell from 57.45 per cent five years ago to 53.66 per cent this year, the total number of votes cast also dropped by 1331, and the UWP polled 1426 fewer votes than it did last time round. However, the Labour party increased its support by 120 to win by 7380 votes, even after internal polls had found people had reservations about voting for Skerrit because he had been in office much too long. It's the sort of result they simply didn't see coming.

Dr. Sam Christian: "Dominica owns me"

Dr. Sam Christian, the UWP candidate for the Soufriere constituency returned home to hero's welcome following medical treatment in Martinique. Dr. Christian was the victim of a freak accident at Pointe Michel on Saturday 1st December 2018 when the SUV that he was driving rolled over him shortly after he tried to exit or enter the vehicle. He suffered a broken pelvis and severe damage to major organs.

Like a man who came back from the grave, Dr. Sam Christian returned to Dominica from medical treatment in Martinique in April 2019 to tears of joy, songs of praise, words of wisdom, and many kisses and tight hugs and fist bumps.

In the end Dr. Christian lost the election 602 to 1352.

Delegate's convention or party rally

If there was any doubt that general elections are around the corner, the Dominica Labour Party's (DLP) delegate's conference that looked very much like a campaign rally was held at the Londonderry playing field situated between the two United Workers Party (UWP) held constituencies of Wesley and Marigot. That rally showed all the characteristics of the type of events that Hartley Henry, the Barbadian political strategist, has popularised around the Caribbean: big, bold, loud carnival-like but intellectually empty.

Guadeloupe formally joins the OECS

In March, the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe - an overseas Department of France, formally joined the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) - a regional grouping comprising the independent and non-independent countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Martinique

Big Uproar in Petite Savanne

Supporters of the ruling DLP in Pichlen, in the Petite Savanne constituency, protested the removal of candidate Marva Williams.

They screamed: "No Marva! No Vote!" "No Marva! No Vote!"

They shouted their anger over and over again; they carried hastily-made placards; they occupied the quiet streets of Pichlen demanding the reinstatement of Marva Williams, the recently announced candidate for Petite Savanne of the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP). In the end the DLP retained the Petite Savanne seat with Dr. Kenneth Darroux, the incumbent whom Williams wanted to replace.

Questions about the Red House

Prime Minister Skerrit says he's personally paying the mortgage for this million-dollar Labour House, a 3,161 square foot two-floor edifice on Lot 62, King George V Street, Roseau. In 2019 the public asked where the DLP obtained the money to purchase the building, now painted red and gold; in September the UWP held a demonstration on the sidewalk near the building.

Billion Dollar Question

In 2019 Leader of the opposition Lennox Linton asked in parliament: where is the CBI money and that question became the UWP's main campaign theme.

In parliament Linton presented his case for an explanation of his perceived discrepancies in earnings from the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.

"We have a big problem, something is not right," Linton told parliament in his response to the budget presented by the prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit.

Challenging Skerrit's own revelation to parliamentarians that the CBI brought in EC$226 million in the last financial year, Linton pointed to the Official Gazette of 14 March 2019, which reported that 3961 people became economic citizens between August and December last year – five of the first six months of the 2018/19 fiscal year.