New DNA candidates’ individual charm will determine their political future, analysts say

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Robert A. Emmanuel

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Democratic National Alliance (DNA) candidate for the St John’s Rural West, Stephen Richardson will have to rely heavily on his individual character and platform if he expects to make political headway within his constituency.

That was the opinion of political analysts Peter Wickham, Linley Winter and Arvel Grant who spoke to Observer media last week.

Richardson, who will be replacing Malaka Parker on the DNA ticket will be competing against Gail Christian of the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) and Richard Lewis of the United Progressive Party (UPP) in the St John’s Rural West Constituency in the upcoming election.

Winter stated that, “in relation to [Gatesworth] James and [Malaka] Parker, these are persons who were settled as candidates for the DNA … the extent to which, in their own right, they would have created any great stir, cannot be discussed at this stage.

“If either or both of them will be replaced by persons who are new to the political scene then clearly the replacement candidate will have quite an uphill task on their hands,” he said.

Grant, on the other hand, noted that the resignations were better coming out now rather than during the height of the general elections.

“If the DNA is able to quickly replace those persons who are changing their minds, then it would show that the DNA is better than 16 candidates deep … if it gets its replacement right then, in good time, it will probably enhance the idea that it is an emerging political party,” Grant said.

Grant also added that the extensive work done by the departed candidates, the individual political skill and groundwork previously done by the DNA in the various constituencies will impact how well the new political candidates will do in the upcoming election.

The political experts also spoke on how the public departures of Parker, Bruce Goodwin and James will impact the strategy of the DNA moving forward.

According to Grant, the resignations will not impact the DNA’s long-term vision for the country, comparing the situation to planting a cedar or orange grove.

“Based on their thinking or how their arguments have been published, they are clearly looking [long-term] … the key thing here is for them to be able to replace candidates when candidates leave,” Grant explained, adding that the test will be to replace their departed colleagues with quality candidates.

However, Wickham sought to throw cold water over any positive news that could be gained from the recent resignations.

“The reality of the situation is the DNA is facing a challenge which arises from the fact that, as a political party, it does not appear to deliver an office to its candidates, and persons who get involved in a political party would have the expectation that they would gain some political relevance,” Wickham stated.

He also added that the electorate may now question the value of the DNA as an alternative political party or “spoiler” party in relation to the two main parties — the UPP and the ABLP.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Leader of the UPP, Harold Lovell told Observer AM listeners that he’s willing to reconcile differences between the former DNA members and his political party.

Several analysts said that Lovell took a reasonable approach on the matter but expressed caution in relation to how the other members of his political party may react to such welcoming of their former colleagues.

“The thing is the United Progressive Party is probably becoming more aware of something that many of us knew a few years now—that they have taken a major hit from the way they treated [DNA Leader] Joanne Massiah and eventually expelled her from the party.

“So, I am not surprised [by his proposal]; Harold Lovell is a shrewd and gifted politician … any attempt to try and win back the fallout which the UPP leadership caused to it[self] by expelling Joanne Massiah is a useful move,” he said.

He added that the UPP leader need to take a careful and balanced approach as to not provoke the DNA members who may still bear bitterness towards his political party.

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