EDITORIAL: Political practicality

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The politics of Antigua and Barbuda is in one of its most interesting phases. The United Progressive Party (UPP), having suffered a disappointing showing in the 2018 general election, is looking to the future and it would appear that they are leaning on history to guide them forward. Realising that the party needs to put its infighting in the rear view mirror and establish a united front against\ the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), its leader,
Harold Lovell, has extended an olive branch to the newest political kid on the block, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
The move has been branded as being one of political practicality rather than mending fences, but that is what obtains in the world of politics and especially so in Antigua and Barbuda, which has established itself as a twoparty environment. To establish a new political party and garner enough support to have a decent showing in an election is near impossible.
One needs only look at our history to see that. It is not that we are dissuading anyone from forming a new party and throwing their hats into the ring, but from a realistic and practical perspective, fighting to be the best of several alternatives is harder than persuading the voters that you are the best alternative.
Lovell, in opening the door to reconciliation, has stated the obvious when he said, “It clearly is not helpful to have two opposition parties going up against the Labour Party. If we have that situation it’s not going to be helpful to the result going forward, and I think this is where the requirement for political maturity comes in.”
In response, the leader of the DNA and former UPP member, Joanne Massiah, rejected the offer of unity, stating, “not at this time.” And while that does not close the door entirely, her party seems to be happy where it is and how it performed.
According to Massiah, “The DNA will continue to build its membership. We’re 11 months old. We’re satisfied with our showing at the polls for an 11month-old party, and we will continue to build our membership as the DNA.” That is a brave and interesting stance since maintaining a political party’s machinery is not a cheap affair, and winning an election is even more expensive. The question will be whether the DNA can weather the lean five years ahead. Will the party that garnered only 675 votes in the general election be able to attract political donors with enough financial muscle to take on, not one, but two well-established parties?
To be honest, we understand the go-it-alone stance adopted by the DNA party and its leader. The membership believes that the UPP and its leadership have wronged them and they have little appetite to return to the nest that booted them out. At the same time, we believe that the DNA will soon face the financial realities of politics and hard decisions regarding survival will have to be made.
It is similar to the types of decisions that were made by Melford
Nicholas and Dean Jonas.
If the ABLP decides to utilise the full five-year term bestowed upon it by the majority of the voters, the opposition stands the best chance of gaining strength and bettering their dismal showing of 2018. But even though they may have maximum time on their hands, there is a lot of work necessary in order to derail the big red train.
If you subscribe to the adage that ‘many hands make light work’ then you will support any plan to unite the opposition parties and strengthen the charge toward 2023.
If, on the other hand, you think that a completely fresh
approach is needed then you had better have started working on that battle plan since March 22, because every day wasted makes the climb up the mound even harder.
DNA co-founder Anthony Stuart is one who believes that this latter option is the better one, but we dare say that it will require a seismic shift in our politics.
We would love to see the plan to convince the 14,000-plus people who voted for blue in 2018 to abandon them and fall in love with orange in five short years. Then again, Mr. Stuart has not indicated a timeline so he may be referring to 2028, which may give the party enough time to displace the UPP as the alternative if it can survive a decade of lean times in the political wilderness.
Time will tell but if we had to bet, we will have to say …. (You didn’t really think we would finish that sentence, did you?!?)
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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