Parties and Electoral Competition in the
Anglophone Caribbean, 1944—1991:
Challenges to Democratic Theory
The Anglophone Caribbean has had a long experience of open competition
or the election of representatives to their parliaments. This experience began
in Jamaica in 1944, when the first general elections under
universal, adult franchise were held. Trinidad and Tobago followed in 1946, the Windward Islands (Grenada, St. Lucia, St.
Vincent, and Dominica), Barbados, and Antigua in 1951, and soon thereafter,
St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla and Montserrat in 1952.
This chapter concentrates on the electoral experience
of these ten countries, where between 1944 and 1991, there have been 101
general elections. The electoral systems of these countries are all based on
the first-past-the-post (FPP) method. Each country is divided up into a number
of constituencies and electors cast a vote for one of a slate of candidates,
the winner being the candidate receiving the largest number, majority, or
plurality of the votes. In the region as a whole, Guyana is the only country in which a system of proportional
representation (PR) is in place. Another noteworthy electoral innovation has
been the lowering of the minimum qualifying age for voting, from the original
twenty-one years to eighteen years. This widening of the electorate has been
effected in all countries, mostly during the 1970s. The fundamentals of the
electoral systems are outlined in the constitutions of all the countries,
including machinery for periodic review and alteration of the numbers and
boundaries of constituencies, and the conduct of elections. Over time
constituency numbers have been enlarged; the present numbers are reflected in
Appendix, Table 7.
The focus of this chapter is on the dynamics of party
competition in the
electoral arena. The notion and reality of “party” as an
instrument of politics had existed in the Caribbean from the l920s. In this early period, possession of the vote was
circumscribed by high property and income qualifications, and the vast majority
of the populations were kept outside the orbit of the formal political system.
Thus, a fundamental aim of the earliest political parties was the abolition of
franchise restrictions and the introduction of full adult franchise.
UNIONS AND MASS PARTIES
the actual basis of the first mass parties was the emerging trade union
movement. The legal right to form trade unions had been won several years prior
to the right to vote. The harshness of material life being, as always, the most
pressing concern, trade unions and trade union leaders became the primary
champions of the disfranchised. When the franchise was universalized, trade
union leaders fashioned the first major parties as political committees of
their unions. It was these organizations, led by Alexander Bustamante in
Jamaica, Eric Gairy in Grenada, Vere
Bird in Antigua, Robert Bradshaw in St. Kitts, William Henry Bramble in
Montserrat, E. T. Joshua in St. Vincent, and Grantley
Adams in Barbados, which then dominated in the first general elections.
differentiation of party systems, involving the creation and success of
alternative groupings, took place at different stages from country to country. Jamaica is the most mature case, as its two successful
parties were formed prior to the first general elections in 1944. In all the
other countries, except Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago, there was only one major party in place at the time
of the first elections, with alternatives being created subsequently. For a time,
independent candidates provided the major opposition to single effective
parties, often with notable success. However, as viable alternative parties
emerged, independents waned and are a comparative rarity in the present
circumstances. In Trinidad and Tobago, a major mass party, the Peoples National Movement
(PNM), was formed in 1955, nine years after the first elections, and in Dominica, the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), the first successful
party, first contested in 1961, ten years after adult suffrage was introduced
there. As the regional data will show, there are twenty-four parties which have
won elections in the ten countries combined, but there are significant
differences between countries in the members of individual successes and the
patterns of alternation.
approach of this chapter is decidedly empirical and comparative. Caribbean political science has long been characterized by sweeping theoretical
and ideological generalization often devoid of empirical referents. In
economic, social, and political terms, the region is assumed to be homogeneous,
to the point that individuality is either unknown or ignored. The consequence
is that comparative political science scarcely exists in and about the region.
An easy, and unfounded, assumption of uniformity has resulted in the
underdevelopment of comparative empiricism, analysis, and theory construction.
Thus, political theory is the poorer for this, and this essay is offered as a
step toward correcting this unfortunate mistake.
PARTIES AND PARTY SYSTEMS
The data presented on the distribution of votes and
seats over time in the several countries constitute the basis on which an
effort can be made to identify “systemic” characteristics of the structure and
dynamics of electoral competition. This effort requires some elaboration of
notions of “party” and “system” as they are applied here.
The term “party” refers to an association of people
under a specific name whose primary purposes are the achievement and exercise
of governmental power. In the Anglophone Caribbean, the established means for
achieving power are success in regularly held elections. Typically, a political
party is characterized by:
Leadership, of an individual or collective kind;
or organization, which may combine features
of charisma or rational-legality;
Ideology and programs as espoused from time to time;
or durability, in terms of the capacity to
subsist or, alternatively, to disappear or be absorbed
into a new or other existing organism;
Electoral performance, as measured by the numbers
of elections contested, the numbers of candidates
votes received, and seats won.
The record shows that the Caribbean experience encompasses stable macro-parties of short duration and no
success. Caribbean parties have also varied considerably with respect to
the possession of personal and institutional charisma, levels of formal and
informal organization, and the ideological bent of policies proclaimed and
In its stricter sense, the term “system” has been
applied to refer to a stable pattern of interacting parts. More usually,
however, its political science usage has taken in any set of actors and
activities, stable or unstable, manifesting themselves
in the political arena. In this study, my application of the term raises the
following empirical questions:
1. At any point
in time, how many competing actors (parties and
independent candidates) are engaged?
Is there alternation in office
among parties, that is, a pattern of
success and defeat
for specific major ties, or does change take place
in an unpatterned fashion?
3. Over time, are there changes in the major actors,
for example, by way
of the demise of
old parties and/or the formation of new ones?
The following paragraphs analyze the data on the basis
of these relevant specifications and queries. Given the focus of the paper, no
attention will be paid to quality of leadership or to organization, ideology,
and program. The data concern 101 general elections in ten countries, contested
by 133 parties and 2,911 candidates, including independents. The record shows
that all the countries have had the experience of large, successful parties
and of small, transient unsuccessful groupings (microparties).
The total number of parties, large and small, that have contested in general
elections in all the countries to date is revealed in Appendix, Table 8.
Most of these parties have really been tiny cliques which have put
forward small numbers of candidates at one general election and disappeared
shortly afterward. A few small parties lasted longer and were able to win seats
and influence for a time. Ninety-one of the 101 elections were won by political
parties, while in the remainder no party won a majority and post election
coalitions and realignments ensued. In all there are twenty-four successful
parties, that is, parties which won elections and formed governments on one or
more occasions. Appendix, Table 9 shows comparatively the sequence of party
victories and coalitions for all ten countries.
There are five countries in which elections have been won only by
political parties, that is, where there was no need for coalitions involving
parties and/or independents. These are Jamaica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Montserrat. Of these five, there ax~ four in which only two
parties have won, the exception being Montserrat, in which four parties have
been victorious. Appendix, Table 10 shows the frequency of party victories in
There are five other countries in which two or three parties have been
successful, but in which on a few occasions no party had won and some form of
post election coalition was required. Appendix, Table 11 shows the frequency of
party victories and coalitions in those countries.
Jamaica is a unique case in that at the time of its first elections (in
1944), both its major parties already existed and commenced a period of
electoral competition, broken only once, in 1983, when the Peoples National Party
(PNP) boycotted the elections. In Barbados, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) first faced minor
challenge from two small parties, the Electors’ Association and Congress Party,
until the DLP entered the fray in 1956. The Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) of
Grenada faced no organized opposition until the Grenada
National Party (GNP) began contesting elections in 1947. But GNP has been
relatively unsuccessful with only one victory, in 1962, participation in a
coalition (1957—1961), and a successful merger (NNP, 1984—1989). Since the
breakup of that alliance, GNP has been renamed The National Party (TNP). In St. Lucia, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) provided fairly
strong but unsuccessful opposition to the Labour Party, which won the first
four elections. Major two-party competition really began in 1964 with the
formation of the United Workers Party (UWP). In St. Kitts-Nevis, the Labour
Party held sway from the beginning, against ineffective challenges from microparties and independents. But with the first
challenge of the Peoples Action Movement (PAM) in 1966, the tide began a slow
turn which brought about first a coalition defeat of Labour by PAM and the
Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) in 1980, and subsequently PAM majorities in 1984
and 1989. Effective alternative party challenge came to Montserrat in 1970 after the Labour Party had won all five previous elections.
The new Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) defeated the Montserrat Labour Party
(MLP) in 1970, after which the old victor became defunct. The resulting party
void was filled by the Peoples Liberation Movement (PLM), which contested
first against PD? in 1978, and won two more elections
until its defeat by the New Progressive Party (NPP) in 1991. Antigua and Barbuda’s turn to experience a major challenge to the
historically supreme Labour Party also took some time in coming. It was not
realized until 1971, when the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM), formed in
1968, was able to mete out the first and so far only general election defeat
suffered by the Labour Party. PLM, however, has since disappeared and a new
challenger has appeared at the most recent elections in the form of the United
National Democratic Party (UNDP).
In the above seven cases, there was at least one (in Jamaica, two) major party in place at the first general
elections. All of these except the MLP continue to exist although at this time
only two, Antigua’s Labour Party and Jamaica’s PNP, are in office.
In our remaining three cases, none of the parties
which were to become successful existed on the occasion of the first general
elections held. In the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the first elections were won by a loose and
short-lived grouping styled the Eighth Army of Liberation. However, by the
second elections, in 1954, the Peoples Political Party (PPP) was formed, and
won against independents. Then, by the third elections in 1957, the St. Vincent
Labour Party (SVLP) entered. Elections between 1957 and 1972 were marked by
competition between these two major parties, following which the PPP went into
decline and has not contested since 1979. The new dominant party in St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the New Democratic Party (NDP), which first
contested in 1979, and defeated the Labour Party in 1984 and 1989. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Montserrat, then, are the two countries in which former
successful labor-based parties, PPP and MLP have become defunct.
Trinidad and Tobago experienced its first major-party formation in 1955
People’s National Movement (PNM) was created. Previously, several factions
contended, with the Butler Party being the most successful. The PNM won all six
elections between 1956 and 1981, gaining majority Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonian support in a context of Afro-Indian pluralism.
It was not until 1986, when efforts to forge an Afro-Indian alternative were
successful, that the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) dealt PNM its
first and so far only electoral defeat. Since then, however, a section of the
NAR led by Basdeo Panday,
the former United Labour Party (ULF) leader, has broken away from the NAR and
formed the United National Congress (UNC). Thus, at this juncture there appear
to be three major-party forces in Trinidad and Tobago: NAR, PNM, and UNC.
Finally, at the other end of the scale of party
formation, Dominica stands apart in that at the first elections there
were no organized political groups in place. Thus, independent candidates held
sway not only in 1951 but in the second and third elections, in 1954 and 1957
respectively. Efforts at party organization bore fruit after 1957 when the
Dominica Labour Party came into being. The DLP won its first four contests,
between 1961 and 1975, its principal opponents being first the Dominica United
Peoples Party (DUPP) in 1961 and 1966 and then the Dominica Freedom Party
(DFP), which began its electoral challenge in 1960. After two unsuccessful
efforts, the DFP defeated the DLP in the last three elections: 1980, 1985, and
In the 1990 elections, however, there was a factor at work which
portends the reorganization of Dominica’s party system. The new United Workers’ Party (UWP)
replaced DLP as the major parliamentary opposition force, winning six seats to DLP’s four. At present, there are three major players in Dominica’s electoral arena: DFP, UWP, and DLP.
THE DEGREE OF
The data show that in the ten states there have been variable sequences
of alternation in office among the successful political parties. “Alternation”
is typically used to denote a regularity of replacement in office among
parties, especially two specific parties.
The record indicates that twenty-four parties have won elections, with
another, Grenada’s NDC, just short of success but able subsequently to
form a government. The patterns of alternation and in several cases the absence of it are as follows:
1. Jamaica: Jamaica evinces a regular pattern of alternation with each of
its two major parties, from the inception, enjoying two terms and then losing
out to the other.
2. Barbados: Alternation in the case of Barbados is evident, but not as neatly so as is the case in Jamaica. The DLP won three terms (1961—1971) successively
after the BLP’s two at the beginning. Then, however,
BLP won two (1976—1981) followed by two more to the DLP (1986-1991).
3. St. Lucia: Regularity of alternation begins to weaken with the
experience of St. Lucia, where four SLP terms were followed by three UWP,
then one SLP, and recently three UWP. Of course, SLP-UWP rivalry began at the
fifth general elections, held in 1964.
4. Grenada: There were two occasions on which GULP was unsuccessful
in the eight elections between 1951 and 1976, that is, in 1956 and 1962. Since
then the NNP party alliance and NDC have both triumphed over Labour.
5. Antigua and Barbuda: Here the pendulum has swung only once against the
ALP, with the lone victory of PLM in 1971. For most of the time opposition
parties in Antigua
and Barbuda have varied, with PLM contesting only three elections with full slates
of candidates in Antigua.
6. Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, and Dominica: These four states are cases where instead of
alternation strictly speaking, there has been a succession of winning parties,
with previous incumbents unable thus far to regain office.
In Montserrat, five terms of the MLP were followed by two terms of
PDP, and then three terms of PLM, which has recently been defeated by the new
NPP. Similarly, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but for the PPP-Mitchell coalition of 1972—1974, the
sequence has been PPP three terms, SVLP three terms, and NDP two terms. These
are multiparty sequences, whereas St. Kitts-Nevis and Dominica are two-party affairs. In the former case, six terms
of SKLP were followed by a PAM-NRP coalition and then two PAM victories. (The
maintenance of the PAM-NRP coalition is necessitated by PAM
‘s one-seat majority in both of the last two elections as well as the
political requirements of a fragile federalist compact.) Dominica’s pattern is one in which four DLP terms have been followed
by three DFP successes. Trinidad and Tobago manifests a slightly different course of party
success. There, following initial coalitions, six straight PNM victories have
been followed by a recent success by the NAR party alliance. Future developments,
as indeed in all other cases, are unforeseeable.
THE DISTRIBUTION OF VOTING LOYALTIES AND SEATS
An important feature of the political system in
general and the party system in particular is the distribution of votes and
seats going to parties and independents, over time. Douglas Rae (1971)
distinguished an electoral party system in terms of the distribution of votes
and a parliamentary party system as indicated by the distribution of seats won.
Because of the absence of proportional representation, winning parties in the Caribbean have, except in a few cases, received higher percentages of seats than
of votes. In some instances a party has won all the seats, but the losing
groups have captured an appreciable share of the popular vote. Generally, the distribution
of votes evidences a political pluralism which is not reflected in the
allocation of seats. This structural characteristic has often led to calls for
the introduction of some system of proportionality in Caribbean elections.
Appendix, Tables 12 to 21 show how votes and seats
have actually been
the outcomes of the elections under scrutiny.
The dominance of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) in Antigua and Barbuda in the early period is shown in the very high share
of the votes it received. However, by the fifth elections, won by PLM, the
winning-party share declined and then rose again, but not to the levels of the
1950s and 1960s. The strength of opposing parties has built up over the entire
period. There were four occasions on which the winning party won all the seats,
but there was also one, the sixth, in which the winner received fewer votes
than the opposition combined (but mainly PLM) (see Appendix, Table 12).
Montserrat shows greater balance in the division of voting loyalties. Opposition
candidates received a low of 30 percent, in the first elections, and on three
occasions, in 1955, 1987, and 1991, have received more votes than the winning
party. Winning-party support was highest in the first elections, and since then
has fluctuated between 43 and 65 percent: there have been three occasions in
which a party won all the seats, with opposition voting at 30,35,
and 38 percent successively (see Appendix, Table 13).
In St. Kitts-Nevis, the Labour Party’s greatest
triumph came in the first elections, when it received 85 percent of the votes.
But its support fell sharply afterward, although 1961 and 1975 were good years.
In the seventh elections (1980), when Labour first lost, PAM and NRP together
polled 56 percent of the votes with Labour receiving the remainder (44%). There
were three occasions on which the winning party polled less than 50 percent of
the votes, Labour once and PAM twice. In the cases of PAM, the party, in an
understanding with NRP, did not sponsor candidates in Nevis.
And at the time of the coalition, the distribution of seats was PAM three, NRP
two, and Labour four (see Appendix, Table 14).
Except for 1966 and 1985, winning-party vote share has
never been particularly high in Dominica, and there have been three instances of winning
parties receiving fewer votes than the combined opposition. In step with this,
opposition strength has always been high, the lowest standing at 35 percent
and surpassing 50 percent on three occasions. The usual disproportionality
of vote and set shares obtains. In cases where more than one opposition group
contests, the disproportion tends to be widest. But at no time have all seats
in Dominica gone to one party (see Appendix, Table 15).
In Grenada shares of votes going to winning parties have been
percent on all but one occasion: 1954. In 1957 three parties,
GULP, GNP, and PDM, won two seats each and independents won the other two.
Then, in 1990, NDC won seven of the fifteen seats with 35 percent of the vote,
while GULP won four, NNP two, and TNP two. Combined opposition voting has been
high, with a low of 36 percent in 1951 and a high of 54 percent in 1954, the
1990 outcome being exceptional in that no party won a majority of seats. There
was no instance in which a party won all the seats (see Appendix, Table 16).
St. Lucia’s record is one of strong popular support for losing
parties. Labour improved its standing in 1957 and 1961, after modest showings
in the first two elections. But when serious two-party competition began with
the entry of UWP from 1964, winning-party shares fluctuated between 52 and 58
percent. As is usually the case, there was the element of disproportionality
in seats won, except for the results in 1987, when on both occasions there was
exact correspondence of shares of votes and seats. An outstanding instance of disproportionality occurred in 1982 when PLP and SLP won
one seat each with 27 percent and 17 percent of the vote respectively (see
Appendix, Table 17).
Vincent and the Grenadines, the Eighth Army of 1951 was not a really coherent
party association on any reasonable minimal standard. The PPP was the first
such party, but fell just short of a majority of the vote on the three
occasions on which it won seat majorities, varying from 51 to 69 percent. Votes
cast for other parties (and independents) have been at a high level in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In two elections, when opposition vote share was 30
percent (1951) and more recently, 34 percent (1989), the winning party won all
the seats (see Appendix, Table 18).
The experience in Barbados has been one in which winning-party support has been
fluctuating over the forty-year period. The shares dropped after 1951, rose
after 1961, declined again from 1976, then rose in 1986, and further declined
in 1991. Between 1951 and 1966, it must be remembered, the electoral system
involved dual membership and dual voting; but from 1971 it has been a system of
single membership and single voting in each constituency. There have been three
instances in which winning-party support has been at 50 percent or less.
Opposition vote support has been high and so has been the share of seats,
except in 1986 (see Appendix, Table 19).
In Jamaica, the winning party’s vote share has been in the
majority in all but three cases: 1944, 1949, and 1962. In 1983, the elections
were boycotted by the PNP whereupon the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won all the
seats (fifty-four seats unopposed and the remaining six in contests against
minor interests), receiving 90 percent of the votes cast. Opposition strength
has always been considerable, 1983 of course excepted. But, in elections of
1976, 1980, and 1989, the share of opposition seats has tended to be lower than
previously (see Appendix, Table 20).
Between 1956 and 1986 when there were party victories
in Trinidad and
there was one occasion (1956) in which the victor’s support was below50 percent
of the votes cast. The case of 1971, like Jamaica’s 1983 elections, was one in which other major
parties boycotted. PNM won eight seats unopposed and twenty-eight against
minor competition. With the exception of 1971, opposition voting has been
considerable, and so have been opposition seat
victories, with the additional exception of 1986 (see Appendix, Table 21).
When the data are looked at regionally the following
findings are noticed. There are twelve occasions on which a party won all the
seats, this outcome occurring in six of the ten countries. It has happened four
times in Antigua
and Barbuda, three times in Montserrat, twice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and once each in St. Kitts-Nevis, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Second, the factor of disproportionality
between vote and seat shares was most acutely manifested on twenty-four
occasions when the party winning a majority of the seats received 50 percent or
less of the total votes. This represents 24 percent of the 101 general
elections. The apparent unfairness of this disproportionality
must be considered in light of the fact that winning parties, and losing ones
a~ well, did not always contest all seats in general elections. Since party
percentage of vote is calculated on the basis of total votes in all
constituencies instead o votes cast in contested constituencies, it follows
that percentage shares and lower. Consider the recent experience in St.
Kitts-Nevis. The Peoples Action Movement won six of the eleven seats, in both
1984 and 1989, and its share a total votes is recorded as 48 percent and 44
percent respectively. However, PAM on both occasions did not contest the seats
in Nevis and its share of votes cast in St. Kitts only is 53
percent in both 1984 and 1989. Other factors which may also be featured in
these situations are variations in the sizes of constituencies and the presence
of effective third parties as occurred in Dominica and Grenada in 1990.
SCHISM, REALIGNMENT, AND ALTERNATIVE PARTIES
A final aspect of the experience of the instrument of
party in the region is the occurrence of intra-party schisms and the
consequences in resignations or defections and the formation of alternative
political parties. In a number of cases these alternative parties have been
quite successful, being able to defeat the older parties out of which new
leadership had come. More generally, several candidates contesting more than
once have stood for more than one party, including some who also ran as
independents. Apart from the experience of successful alternative parties born
of defections from older parties, there are also several instances of
permutation among a host of unsuccessful politicians appearing in a variety of
party sobriquets. The most successful examples of alternative parties formed
directly as a result of splits within older parties are the DLP of Barbados and
the UWP of St. Lucia. The DLP of Barbados was launched mainly by former members
of the older Barbados Labour Party (BLP), including Errol Barrow, later prime
minister, J. E. Theodore Brancker, A. E. S. Lewis, J.
Cameron Tudor, and Frederick Smith. The new DLP also included Wynter Crawford, subsequently deputy prime minister, who
had been the founder-leader of the Congress Party. Among other persons who
later joined the DLP were Frank Walcott, the trade union leader, and former
Conservative Party figures B. L. Carmichael and W R. Coward. The new party soon
proved its mettle; while winning only four seats in its first electoral contest
in 1956, it went on to win majorities in five of the next seven elections—in
1961,1966,1971,1986, and 1991.
St. Lucia’s UWP has a somewhat similar provenience. The party
was formed by a combination of political figures leaving the Labour Party, with
members of the previously ineffective PPP. Actually, at first John Compton and
a group of former SLP members had formed a National Labour Movement (NLM) in
1961, which subsequently merged with PPP figures to form the UWP in 1964. The
major persons involved in the early UWP were John Compton, Maurice Mason,
Vincent Monrose, and the Bousquet
brothers from the Labour Party, and George Mallet, Michael DuBoulay,
Hunter Francois, and Henry Giraudy from the PPP. The
UWP has been very successful electorally, having won
five of the six elections held between 1964 and 1987.
A third successful
alternative party whose formation is linked to defection and realignment is the
New Democratic Party (NDP) of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The NDP was founded by James Mitchell, a former
member of the country’s Labour Party and minister of government. Mitchell had
left Labour, for which he had won the Grenadines seat in
1966 and 1967, running successfully as an independent in 1972. He then took
the opportunity to become premier by allying with the PPP, which, like Labour,
had won six seats in the 1972 elections. Then when the coalition (Mitchell-PPP)
collapsed by 1974, he headed a loose alliance of candidates in the elections of
that year, but was the only one victorious. The NDP was formed after the 1974
elections and began its challenge in 1979, when it won two seats. Since then
this new party won the elections of 1984 (with nine of the fifteen seats) and 1989
with all fifteen seats. Most of the party’s candidates have been new to
elections, but it has sponsored candidates originally aligned with PPP (Victor Cuffy and Emory Robertson), United People’s Movement
(Parnell Campbell and Carlyle Dougan), and Democratic
Freedom Movement (E. W. Griffith).
In Antigua and
Barbuda, the only party thus far to have defeated the Labour Party has been the
PLM, which was a creation of defectors from the ALP, in alliance with
opposition interests, unsuccessful up to then, and subsequently. The principal
ALP defectors included George Walter, at the time senior official of the ALP’s trade union, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union
(ATLU), Donald Halstead, Sydney Prince, and Keithlyn
Smith. The alliance embraced Robert Hall and other members of the
Antigua-Barbuda Democratic Movement (ABDM), and there were also involved other
emerging political figures who had not yet been strongly aligned party-wise.
The PLM defeated the ALP in 1971, having first shown its promise by winning four
seats in a special election in 1968. In 1976, PLM received more votes than
Labour but won only five of the seventeen seats, Labour taking eleven and the
other taken by an independent (in Barbuda). After that the party waned and
broke up, clearing the way for a new round of ALP predominance.
Montserrat’s PDP and PLM are the fifth and sixth examples of
successful alternative parties whose leadership derived from an established
dominant party. The PDP was formed by Austin Bramble, son of William Bramble, leader
of the MLP and chief minister. Austin Bramble was a member of the MLP and had
won a seat in 1966 on that party’s ticket. Joining him in the PDP were former
MLP candidates Eustace Dyer and R. G. Joseph, and John Osborne, who was
previously leader of the Montserrat Workers Progressive Party (MWPP) and would
later form the PLM to defeat the PDP in the last three general elections (1978,
1983, 1987). The PDP won general elections twice, in 1970 and 1973, but since
then the next three elections, as seen, were won by PLM, whose leader was
previously a PDP candidate. John Dublin was a former PDP winner (1970) who lost
as an independent in 1973 and then won for PLM in 1978 and 1983.
The NAR, the only group to have defeated the PNM in Trinidad and Tobago
was, as its name indicates, an amalgamation of leaders and senior members of
four parties: the Democratic Action Congress (DAC) led by A. N. R. Robinson,
the United Labour Front (ULF) headed by Basdeo Panday, the Organization for National Reconstruction (ONR)
led by Karl Hudson-Phillips, and the Tapia House Movement (THM) whose leader,
Lloyd Best, did not take part in the eventual NAR amalgamation. Robinson, who
was selected as NAR leader, was formerly a senior member of the PNM who
resigned in 1970, first forming the ACDC (Action Committee of Dedicated
Citizens) and later the DAC. Hudson-Phillips was also a senior PNM
parliamentarian, who, later than Robinson, also left the PNM and founded ONR.
He was appointed one of two deputy leaders of NAR. The other was Panday, who began his electoral career as a candidate of
the Workers and Farmers Party (WFP) in 1966 and afterward formed the ULF. The
T1-IM had itself contested the 1976 elections separately and in 1981 took part
in a loose three-party alliance with DAC and ULF. On that occasion ONR declined
alliance and contested on its own.
Apart from Robinson and Panday, other NAR
candidates who had contested on different platforms previously were Jennifer
Johnson and Pamela Nicholson from DAC; Winston Dookeran,
Emmanuel Hosein, John Humphrey, Nizam
Mohammed, Kelvin Ramnath, and Trevor Sudama from ULF; Theodore Guerra, Oswald Hem Lee, and
Anselm St. George of ONR; and Gloria Henry, Lincoln Myers, and Bhoe Tewarie of Tapia. The NAR’s remaining twenty candidates in 1986 were
In Grenada there have been four parties which have formed
governments in the wake of general elections: GULP, GNP, NNP, and NDC. The GULP
is the country ‘s oldest party and the only one to
have contested all general elections held between 1951 and 1990. It has always
been under the leadership of Eric Gairy. Several
politicians over time have defected from GULP but none have become leaders of
successful parties. The Grenada National Party, in consequence of its lack of
long-term effectiveness against its archrival, GULP, entered into a People’s Alliance with the New Jewel Movement (NJM) in the elections of
1976. But the NJM leader Maurice Bishop emerged as opposition leader instead of
GNP’s Herbert Blaize when the alliance won six of the
fifteen seats in those elections. Then in 1984 GNP merged with two new parties,
the Grenada Democratic Movement led by Dr. Francis Alexis and the National
Democratic Party headed by George Brizan, to form the
New National party under Blaize’s leadership. Although
NNP won the 1984 elections, the party split progressively during its term of
office into three groups: first, NDC with Brizan as
leader and then Nicholas Brathwaite, The National
Party led first by Blaize and then by Ben Jones, and
a reduced NNP now led by Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Thus, in the regrouping which occurred prior to the 1990 general
elections, the following realignments took place:
1. NDC: five former NNP candidates were now aligned with this party:
Alexis, Brizan, Phinsley
St. Louis, Kenny Lalsingh, and Tillman Thomas.
2. TNP: from the NNP, this party brought Jones (leader), George
McGuire, Pauline Andrew, Alleyne Walker, and Felix
Alexander. But it also recruited two former GULP candidates, Michael Caesar and
3. NNP: the reconstituted NNP included from among the ranks of the
original NNP Mitchell (leader) and Grace Duncan, as well as Winston Whyte, formerly of GULP, UPP, and CDLP, and Winston Fleary, an independent in 1984.
4. GULP: in 1990 GULP’s slate of
candidates included Dr. Wellington Friday, former senior member of GNP.
politicians in Grenada has not been as successful in producing both stable
and victorious alternative parties as has been the case in the six countries
discussed previously. While the hitherto dominant GULP has been defeated in the
last two general elections, the alliances that have done so have been
characterized by instability. The NNP of 1984 won fourteen of the fifteen
parliamentary seats, but rapidly came apart. In the follow-up, the realignments
of 1990 were such as in fact to prevent any party from winning a majority of
seats, the outcome being NDC with seven seats, GULP rebounding with four, and
two each to NNP and TNP. After the elections realignment has continued. Two
GULP parliamentarians sided with NDC, and the two TNP winners also declared
support for an NDC-led government; but the TNP leader has since opted out of
this arrangement and returned to the opposition benches. Meanwhile, a third
GULP representative and one of the NNP’s have
resigned from their respective parties and sit as independents. On the face of
it, therefore, Grenada’s parliament at the time of writing is made up of seven
NDC representatives supported by two from GULP and one from TNP, making up the
government majority, and, in opposition, GULP, NNP, and TNP, one each plus two
In the remaining three states, Dominica, Jamaica, and St. Kitts-Nevis, there has been comparatively
little traffic among candidates of major parties, and no case of a successful
party being formed on the basis of defection of a leader or leaders from a
previously existing major party. The Dominica Freedom Party has sponsored two
former Labour Party candidates, Eden Durand and Pat Stevens, while Labour has
in turn sponsored Henry Dyer, previously a DFP candidate. Additionally, the new
main opposition party, UWP, has incorporated two former Labour candidates in Romanus Bannis and Thomas
Etienne. Jamaica’s two powerful party rivals, .JLP and PNP, have also had
little trading of candidates, but most of the little movement that has taken
place has been away from the JLP to PNP: B. B. Coke, Edward Fagan, Rose Leon,
0. A. Malcolm, and Dr. Winston Williams. In return the record shows only one
candidate, Victor Bailey, as having run for PNP and subsequently for JLP.
Finally, in the case of St. Kitts-Nevis, the stability of candidacy among major
parties has been high as only three candidates have passed among them: Ivan DeGrasse from Labour to PAM, Frederick Parris from PAM to
Labour, and lvor Stevens from PAM to its coalition
The above discussion
has focused on the transit of candidates between major parties only. But it
must be recorded that there were several instances of realignment, occurring in
a number of ways: independents joining minor or major parties, minor party
candidates joining major parties, as well as the reverse of these movements.
With some 133 parties having been created in the milieu often countries,
realignment helped to adjust the relation between supply and demand for
electoral candidates. More significantly, realignment, evidencing freedom of
association and dissociation, facilitated flexible responses from the party
system in diversifying the offerings of leadership and sometimes of program
available to Caribbean electorates.