EDITORIAL: Will the thief become an announced guest?

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Christmas seems to be off to a slow start this year. The economic doldrums seem to have everyone in a “Scrooge meets the Grinch” kind of mood. One thing that is not slowing, however, is the talk of an early election, and we expect that the increased opportunities for social interaction and rum drinking over the holiday season will fuel the conversation and bring it to a boil.
Of course, when it come to gossip, rumour and political intrigue, there is always a conspiracy theorist that is very willing to share the latest with us, and we have to admit, with all the talk of a “thief in the night” election, we are very willing to listen. We know … it is wrong to encourage them but we just can’t help ourselves. It is our guilty pleasure. We promise to go on a conspiracy diet in the new year.  
In any case, the word on the street is that we can expect an election by April of next year, maybe as soon as February! If the conspiracy theorists are right, the prime minister will pull the trigger before the season ends. He will not drag it out and make the mistake that the United Progressive Party (UPP) made and hold the election in the off-season, when dollars and jobs dry up.
If you hear them tell it, you would swear that they are living in the prime minister’s house and are privy to his every thought. They claim that the PM is beginning to back himself into a corner. Major projects have not materialised in the way he envisioned, and he cannot take the time for something big to happen; nor for the opposition to strengthen. Time, they say, is to the advantage of the opposition since the majority of the candidates are new and running for office for the first time.
While the strategy seems clear, the road ahead is full of potholes. The conspiracists believe that the main problem right now is that the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) has not yet settled on their candidates, and some constituencies may require a divisive primary to choose a candidate. The claim is that the party cannot afford any negative press ahead of the election, so the move is on to pressure or entice non-favoured people to drop out and clear the way for the favoured few.
Of course, conspiracy theorists drink all colours of kool-aid and the red drinkers say “all is well.” They are quite emphatic that there will be no need for primaries because everything will be sorted behind the scenes. We sure hope not. We like to see democracy at work at all levels, especially the primary level. Our desires aside, the red-drinkers claim that the PM is well within his rights to push for people he deems to be trustworthy and loyal and others need to step aside. The tone is a bit more sinister than you probably got from reading that because, when delivered in person, you are left waiting for the “or else.”
You see why we listen? It is all so interesting! But hold on, the conspiracists are not done yet (as if they ever are).
They also claim that if the PM is not satisfied with the way that the pieces are laid on the political chessboard, he will roll the dice and take the election into late 2018 or early 2019. By then, they say, he hopes to have a Barbuda solution that will put the ABLP in a better position to retain the seat. Actually, if we went into all the theories surrounding Barbuda and how and where they are going to vote, it would leave your head spinning. Maybe we will get into those at another time.
If it is one thing that we have to give to the conspiracy theorists, it is, they make you think. If you were not already analysing all the pros and cons regarding an early election, you are probably doing so now. We usually take the crazy conspiracy theories with a grain of salt, but we must admit that the ‘before April’ theory makes sense.
As time goes on, the good windows of opportunity for an election, early or otherwise, close, and predicting “when” becomes easier. Eventually, that ‘thief in the night’ might become more of an invited guest that is given decent notice to attend and require an RSVP.
Time will tell.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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