Another party is born and we welcome the colour orange

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In case you missed it, there is a new political party in Antigua & Barbuda vying for your attention and votes in the next general election. The party seems to be led by former United Progressive Party (UPP) leadership contender and current Member of Parliament (MP) Joanne Massiah and is called the Democratic National Alliance (DNA). We say “seems” because there are no formal titles as yet, but MP Massiah was referred to as the “leader”.
The party’s launch was eagerly anticipated since MP Massiah was ousted from the ranks of the UPP and made it known that she would not be relegated to the dustbin of political history. The party’s logo, name and orange colour were all introduced, along with other members of the DNA’s leadership team, to include: interim General Secretary Gatesworth James, Anthony Stuart and Angela Payne. We presume that there are others but those were the persons seated at the head table.
We would like to welcome the DNA to the political melting pot and we wish them well as they seek to get a footing in our bit of paradise. While colours have great meaning in the world of politics, we would not want to associate or presume any particular leanings of the party until we hear of their policies and plans for Antigua & Barbuda. 
And while neither the name nor the colour is original for a political party in this region, it is new to us here in little ole Antigua & Barbuda. It would be interesting to see if the party has any affiliations, or share any philosophies, to the existing or former DNA parties. For example, there is a DNA party in the Bahamas, which sports a green colour and a slogan that says “Go Green in 17” (we got a chuckle out of that). Then there was the extremely short-lived DNA party in Trinidad & Tobago that did not last a month, proving that alliances are hard to create and even harder to maintain. 
That said, there was no reference to a political alliance of any sort and since all the members of the current leadership were formerly aligned to the UPP, we presume that their philosophies are as well. It is early days yet so political alliances may still be in the works … or not. 
One of the key takeaways from the launch was that the party is serious about campaign reform and the influence of big money in our national politics. That is a stance that we share so we can certainly get behind that philosophy. That said, unless something radical happens to our campaign finance laws and policies, it is going to take a lot of money to contest and win a national election and we are not sure the party can muster enough dollars from “the ordinary man and woman of Antigua” to be successful. That, of course, is an opinion and not meant to deter the new party from its course because we would love to see the influence of big money eliminated from our politics.
The real question is: What will the party’s impact be on the next general election? Logic will dictate that the party will pull votes from the UPP and have limited impact on the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party. However, Antigua & Barbuda is traditionally a two-party political system and ‘outside’ parties have not fared well at the polls. In the last general election in 2014, the Antigua Barbuda True Labour Party fielded five candidates and was only able to muster a total of 182 votes. The other two outsiders, The Missing Link VOP and the Antigua Barbuda People’s Movement received seven and 12 votes respectively for the single candidate that each party fielded.  
That is not to say that history will repeat itself but it is going to be an uphill battle for the DNA and its yet to be released slate of candidates; especially since it takes time to win hearts and minds. With the next general election constitutionally due in about two years, it does not give the new party much time to get its candidates launched and endear them to the people. Added to that basic challenge is the time to formulate and educate voters on their “20 year development plan” while shunning election paraphernalia and relying on a grassroots-funded campaign. This equates to a monumental challenge that we will eagerly observe and await the final outcome.
It can only get better (from a popcorn-munching-political-observer perspective) if a political alliance does materialise. One that blends traditionally opposing philosophies under a single orange umbrella. Now, that would be extremely interesting. Fingers crossed! Fingers crossed!
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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