Grenada’s out going Prime Minister Keith Mitchell not only called general elections nine months earlier than due but he had also asked the Grenadian electorate to give him one more five-year term before he retires after decades in public life.
Late Thursday, the results of the polls came in and Mitchell and his cabinet, which had run the country for the past nine years with all the constituency seats, were sent home with the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) winning nine of the 15 seats. Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) had ironically swept all 15 seats in the past two consecutive elections and were on such a political high that Grenadians had rejected proposals in a referendum that would have made having an opposition mandatory because a single party had won all the parliamentary seats. The NNP had also won all 15 seats in Grenada back in 1999.
This time, the electorate went for the NDC and charismatic, fresh-faced attorney Dickon Mitchell for prime minister. In chalking up victory, party faithful were quick to remind the country that Mitchell — no known relation to the former prime minister — was not only running in his first major elections but had also just taken over the NDC leadership a mere eight months ago. Mitchell graduated from the regional law school in Trinidad back in 2002 and after working at one of the leading island law firms, had even established his own with other like-minded attorneys.
On the campaign trail, Keith Mitchell, 75, had acknowledged that the NNP would have lost a few seats and would have retained power but Grenadians voted for a resounding change of the guard, ushering in a new era with the younger Mitchell.
The PM designate, meanwhile, told supporters after midnight that he would ask the governor general to declare Friday as a holiday to allow locals to celebrate the victory and the imminent changing of the guard. He also said that work would begin in earnest from Monday after he is sworn in.
“Project number one I want us to start by getting the nutmeg plants, the clove plants, the cinnamon plants because project number one is we are going to replant all of the spices. Come Monday we are going to work. If we could transform the National Democratic Congress in eight months and legally, peacefully take the seat of power then we could transform the state of Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada in five years, 10 years, in 15 years,” he said to loud applause at the victory rally in La Saggesse Playing Field in St. David where Mitchell won his seat.
Outgoing PM Mitchell easily won his seat but several cabinet ministers lost theirs. Chief among them was Minister of Finance, Greg Bowen as well as Minister of Legal Affairs, Kindra Mathurin-Stewart, Minister of Fisheries, Alvin DaBreo and Minister of Information and Technology, Pamela Moses.
The mini archipelago with Carriacou and Petite Martinique had experienced severe economic turbulence during the worst and early days of the global COVID-19 pandemic as it struggled to recover from lockdowns and supply change delays. It also appears that the electorate had grown a bit tired of Keith Mitchell and the NNP.
“We just want to say goodbye to Keith Mitchell and to usher in a new prime minister and wish him and his team well as they seek to implement their vision and plan for moving Grenada forward and transforming the economic and social life of the people,” former NDC General Secretary Glen Noel told New Grenada Today. They are tired with the same old and embrace change, youthful energy and the vision of the new leader Dickon Mitchell who connected emotionally and his message resonated with the people.
I think the NDC made the transition at the right time in understanding the generational fatigue and actually heard the call of the Grenadian people and embraced new leadership,” he said, appearing to succinctly capture the mood of the electorate.
The national results show that the National Democratic Party received 31,398 (51.81 %) of the votes, New National Party 28,959 (47.79 %) and other 240 (0.4 %).