Individual charm of new DNA candidates will determine their political future, analysts say

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Robert A. Emmanuel

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The National Democratic Alliance (DNA) candidate for St John’s Rural West, Stephen Richardson will need to rely heavily on his individual character and platform if he hopes to make political progress in his constituency.

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

Richardson, who will replace Malaka Parker on the DNA ticket, will face Gail Christian of the Antigua-Barbuda Labor Party (ABLP) and Richard Lewis of the United Progressive Party (UPP) in the constituency of St John’s Rural West in the upcoming election.

Winter said that, “as far as [Gatesworth] James and [Malaka] Parker, these are people who have been nominated as candidates for DNA… the extent to which, on their own, they would have created a great stir, cannot be discussed at this point.

“If one or both of them are replaced by people new to the political scene, it is clear that the replacement candidate will have a rather difficult task ahead,” he said.

Grant, on the other hand, noted that resignations come out better now rather than at the height of the general election.

“If DNA is able to quickly replace people who change their minds, that would show that DNA is better than 16 deep candidates…if it gets its replacement then, in due time, it will likely reinforce the idea that it’s an emerging political party,” Grant said.

Grant also added that the extensive work done by deceased candidates, individual political skills and the groundwork previously done by DNA in the various constituencies will impact the success of new political candidates in the upcoming election.

The political pundits also explained how the public departures of Parker, Bruce Goodwin and James will impact DNA strategy going forward.

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

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

However, Wickham has sought to throw cold water on any positive news that may come from the recent resignations.

“The reality of the situation is that DNA faces a challenge that stems from the fact that as a political party it does not seem to offer positions to its candidates, and people who get involved in a political party s ‘would expect them to gain political relevance,’ Wickham said.

He also added that the electorate might now question DNA’s value as an alternative political party or “spoiler” party to the two main parties – the UPP and the ABLP.

Meanwhile, Friday, the UPP leader Harold Lovell said AM Observer listeners that he is ready to reconcile the differences between former DNA members and his political party.

Several analysts said Lovell took a reasonable approach to the matter, but expressed caution about how other members of his political party might react to such a welcome from their former colleagues.

“The fact is that the United Progressive Party is probably increasingly aware of something that many of us have known for some years now – that they have taken a major hit because of the way they have dealt [DNA Leader] Joanne Massiah and eventually expelled her from the party.

“So I’m not surprised [by his proposal]; Harold Lovell is a shrewd and gifted politician… any attempt to try and recoup the fallout the UPP leadership has caused him[self] expelling Joanne Massiah is a worthwhile decision,” he said.

He added that the UPP leader needed to take a careful and balanced approach so as not to provoke DNA members who might still harbor bitterness towards his political party.

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