Call it premature celebrations or perhaps last minute campaigning, but one thing’s for sure, supporters of both of the island’s major political parties were out in full force on election day (November 28, 2011). St Lucians came out from as early as 5am just to be first in line.
Though it was simply a case of ‘X’ marks the spot for some, quite a number of persons had difficulty with the voting process. Thankfully electoral officers were on hand to give some much needed voting instructions.
Early Monday morning at some polling stations it seemed no one even dared crack a smile as they waited patiently (or not) to cast their votes. As soon as some stations opened people literally ran in to secure their places in line.
From the north of the island down the East Coast the atmosphere was relatively quiet earlier in the day. The STAR caught up with a truly confident Edmund Estaphane, representative for the United Workers Party just as he was about to cast his vote.
Minutes later Albert Fregis made his way to the Clendon Mason Secondary School. Much like Estaphane, Fregis said he was confident about his campaigning and the outcome of this election. When asked what he would do if the election did not go in his favour Fregis seemed taken aback with the thought of not winning as he said he had not considered that in the slightest.
It was a long and hectic day indeed, for the candidates and particularly the people working at the polling stations all over the island. On Monday evening the STAR was based in the south and we found ourselves in Kenny Anthony’s Vieux Fort South Constituency Office. Representatives close to Anthony attempted to maintain their calm until the very end but supporters would not have it that way. From the moment results started coming in they flooded the streets that surrounded the office, even before Kenny Anthony made his way there.
As the results were being called, right outside Kenny Anthony’s office the “en rouge” chant was still going strong. A short time after that the sounds of drums filled the air and supporters literally cleared out the constituency office and made their way to the streets. Music blasted and horns blown as motorcades started forming. It was a mixture of emotions and a tense moment for non supporters of the St Lucia Labour Party.
Heavy rains didn’t seem to be an issue as scores of people paraded through the main streets in Vieux Fort town. Things got heated to the point that there was barely any standing room left in the areas surrounding Anthony’s office. At one point people even started ripping campaign posters off walls, cars and buildings.
There’s nothing quite as exciting as election time, the friendly and not so friendly rivalry and as midnight approached the opposition leader made his way to his constituency office where he was greeted with a standing ovation. Anthony had been making the rounds around the constituency with excited supporters who escorted him all the way to his office.
With his wife by his side Anthony conducted his first media press conference noting jokingly that it was the first time in a while they’d seen so many media representatives in Vieux Fort south at the same time. Anthony thanked all for coming out to celebrate with him, but revealed the disappointing news to some that the day following the election would not be a holiday.
In Anthony’s words, there was too much work to be done and the SLP leader made mention of two major landslides in Soufriere on Monday that may have been triggered by persistent rains and unstable soils. Anthony told all that “two wrongs do not make a right . . . We need to cleanse the political architecture.”
Anthony said he was overwhelmed with the victory but noted he was conscious of the challenges in the days ahead. Challenges he said weighed very heavily on his mind.
“We first have to get the constitutional arrangements in place,” Anthony said. “My work is cut out for me and that of the government once we’ve completed initial arrangements.”
Anthony spoke of the establishment of a reconstruction unit to manage hurricane Tomas reconstruction, then he said his party would deal with the issue of job creation “because we promised the people of St Lucia we’d take care of that issue.”
On the issue of diplomatic relations Anthony noted: “We have to behave in a civilized way. We have no intention of throwing out the Taiwanese the day after; that would be improper. We will hear both sides, invite the Taiwanese in, hear what the Chinese have to say then we will make a decision after speaking to both sides. The interest of St Lucia comes first so we have to take that into account.
“We have a very hard job ahead,” Anthony said. “We need to get to work immediately and get the government in place. While St Lucians would be anxious to celebrate it is necessary to set a tone for the future. We need to start right way. I know we’re going to cause some disappointment.”
Anthony asked that St Lucians celebrate in quiet and somber way and get to work immediately.
“It’s important that we take the right steps from now,” he said.
“Let us come back to work so we can start the work we need to in our country.”