Parties and Electoral Competition in the

Anglophone Caribbean, 1944—1991:

Challenges to Democratic Theory

Patrick Emmanuel


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.




However, 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.

The 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.

The 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.





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:


                        1. Leadership, of an individual or collective kind;

     2. Structure or organization, which may combine features

          of charisma or rational-legality;

                        3. Ideology and programs as espoused from time to time;

     4. Life-span or durability, in terms of the capacity to

          subsist or, alternatively, to disappear or be absorbed

          into a new or other existing organism;

                        5. Electoral performance, as measured by the numbers

                             of elections contested, the numbers of candidates

                             nominated, 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 actualized.


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?

2. 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 these countries.


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

when the 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 1990.


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 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.





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

spread in 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 over 50

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).


In St. 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

Tobago, 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.




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 first-timers.


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 Marcel Peters.

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.


Realignment of 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 independents.


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 partner, NRP.


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.