By Hudson George
Grenada’s politics is a mélange; and as the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is getting ready to elect a new political leader after it was defeated by the ruling New National Party (NNP), Grenadians are anxious to hear who the new leader will be.
There are numerous factors why politics has become a mélange within the Grenadian society. For example, after the US military invaded Grenada on October 25, 1983, to get rid of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG), the Grenadian people were very much divided during almost five year’s military dictatorship.
During that period the common enemy was Maurice Bishop-led PRG regime. Most Grenadians had no clue what was going in the country politically. They were not concerned about who Eric Gairy’s GULP supporters were and who Jewel Movement supporters were. The mysterious PRG government was making the rules.
After the US Army invaded the country and defeated the PRG regime and democracy was restored, Gary’s returned from exile to contest general election and the political mélange became visible.
GULP supporters embraced their old-time leader Eric Gairy and the former Jewel Movement supporters and other conservative elements were concerned that if Gairy party win the general election, Gairy will revenge all those who participated in overthrowing his regime in 1979.
With the restoration of democracy, most Grenadians were looking forward to a brighter future. Some young educated politicians in exile returned to Grenada to contest the election but they could not see things in common. Personal ambition to become the new leader of Grenada was the main problem. Ideology was out of the question.
Well known respectful scholarly men as the late George Brizan, Dr Keith Mitchell and Dr Francis Alexis had their agenda to become the next Grenadian prime minister but they had no other choice but to join the coalition movement under the leadership of veteran conservative politician Herbert Blaize. So, they joined the Blaize-led NNP.
The three scholarly men knew that their chances to become the new leader of Grenada was not certain because the Ronald Reagan administration was looking at their political interest to install a new leader that can be manipulated and trusted. However, the Reagan administration’s best choice was Blaize, a well- known right-wing conservative. Unfortunately, the alliance did not last very long even though Blaize-led NNP won the election in December 1984.
On the other hand, the US and its Caribbean allies did not want Gairy to regain political power due to Gairy’s dictatorial past record, even though he was still popular among the grassroots agricultural workers. Even today some Grenadians believe that the election was fixed.
Blaize NNP government brought back democracy but the younger ambitious educated politicians within the government ranks were still not satisfied with Blaize leadership. In the process, Brizan jumped ship and formed the New National Congress (NDC), with Nicholas Brathwaite as the leader. Alexis also jumped ship and joined the NDC.
Mitchell remained in Blaize government and struck the old man Blaize the hardest political blows by defeating him in the party convention and took the leadership. Mitchell’s strategy paid off. He remained in the NNP administration and defeated Blaize in the party convention and took full control of the party.
Months later Blaize died in office while parliament was prorogued. When fresh election was called in 1990, the NDC won and formed the government.
However, within the NDC government ranks, the problem of leadership surfaced again. Dr Alexis wanted to be the leader to succeed the elderly Brathwaite, but he was defeated by Brizan, so he left the party and formed his own political party Democratic Labour Party (DLP). Unfortunately for Alexis his party never gained popular support.
And as the two main political party keep on fighting for political power within a fragile democratic process, the ruling NNP has been more successful at the polls.
But the sad thing is that some of the old-time political characters in the PRG have resurfaced and posed as liberal democrats, while some of their supporters are hoping that in the future, they can gain political power within both political parties to create a socialist state. Nevertheless, this concept is alien towards our Grenadian political culture. So, it is more political mélange in Grenada’s politics.