SAN JUAN – Some 70,000 voters are eligible to cast ballots in Dominica’s general elections on Monday, determining the composition of the Caribbean island’s next Parliament.
The two main political parties, the governing Dominica Labor Party, or DLP, and the opposition United Workers Party, or UWP, which governed the country between 1995 and 2000, have nominated 21 candidates each.
Two independent candidates are also competing in the election in Dominica, which gained its independence from Britain in 1978.
The DLP has been in power for 14 years, winning 18 of the 21 seats in Parliament in the 2009 general elections, and it is expected to win a majority in the elections on Monday.
The opposition criticized Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s government this year for neglecting agriculture, causing farmers to abandon farms because of high production costs and wage instability.
If it wins the election, the UWP vowed to unite Dominica’s diaspora, another point in its political platform.
On Nov. 19, 2014, Skerrit invited the Organization of American States, or OAS, the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, and the Commonwealth Secretariat to participate as observers in the elections in the interests of transparency and good governance.
The OAS and CARICOM recently confirmed they were sending observers, Dominica’s Ambassador to CARICOM, Felix Gregoire, said last week.
Skerrit met on Dec. 4 with the OAS observer team that will monitor compliance with the law at polling places, as they did in the 2009 elections.
Last week, Skerrit also announced a wage increase of up to 5 percent for public employees over the next three years, a move that was viewed on the island as a clear electoral maneuver, press reports said.
A recent report, moreover, by the island’s Electoral Commission showed registered voters in Dominica outnumbered the population of the island, raising concerns for the opposition.
The commission said in a statement that the number of registered voters on its lists stood at 72,484, while the 2011 census found that Dominica had a population of 71,293.
Chief Elections Officer Steven La Rocque told reporters there was nothing sinister about the discrepancy and that it was due, among other factors, to not having removed deceased people from the voter rolls in recent years.