STALEMATE AND CRISIS: THE 1993
ST. KITS AND NEVIS
S. B. Jones-Hendrickson
Professor of Economics and
Chairman, Division of Social Sciences
University of the Virgin Islands
St. Croix and St. Thomas Campuses
Paper prepared for the CARIBBEAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION XIXth ANNUAL
CONFERENCE, Merida, Mexico, May 23-28, 1994.
STALEMATE AND CRISIS: THE 1993 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS.
The November 1993 General Elections in St. Kitts and Nevis ended
with the St. Kitts-Nevis Labor Party (SKNLP) and the People's Action Movement
(PAM) each winning four seats in St. Kitts. In Nevis, the Concerned Citizens
Movement (CCM) obtained two seats and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP)
obtained one seat. In St. Kitts there was uncertainty. In the eleven-member
National of Assembly, there was no clear-cut majority.
The Governor General, Sir Clement Arrindell, acting on the advice
of Dr. Kennedy Simmonds, the Peoples' Action Movement leader, asked the said
Simmonds to form a Government of PAM's four members and the one Nevis
Reformation Party member. This meant that the government had five seats and the
combined opposition had six seats. This action of the Governor General and the
Peoples Action Movement, precipitated a political and constitutional impasse in St.
Kitts. People took to the streets protesting the manner in which the political
impasse was resolved. Legal and constitutional scholars took to the airwaves
venting their views as to the correctness, or lack, thereof, of the Governor
General's action in light of what was perceived as a minority government.
The objective of this paper is to discuss the underlying systemic issues
in the impasse and the subsequent crisis and offer some suggestions to avoid such a
crisis in the future. The paper will be cover seven sections: (1) the genesis of the
constitutional crisis; (2) the constitutional authority of the Governor General (3)
the Vance Amory Factor; (4) the role of the Christian Council; (5) the
marginalities of victory; (6) shifts and swings in victories, and (7) a conclusion
about an alternative system that may avert future crises.
I. GENESIS OF THE CRISIS.
In 1980 when PAM and NRP assumed power in St. Kitts and Nevis,
the country was organized under the West Indies Act of 1967. The State, then
including Anguilla (up to 1967), was dubbed a State in association with the United
Kingdom. Some Anguillians, aided and abetted with elements of the Peoples
Action Movement, seceded from St. Kitts on May 30, 1967
On June 10, 1967, some elements of the PAM and some elements of
the Anguillian population attempted to overthrow the government of Robert
Llewellyn Bradshaw. As Ronald Webster (1987:21), leader of the Anguilla
On June 10, 1967, I organized a small Anguilla invasion force
which landed on St. Kitts. What we really wanted was to keep the
battle away from Anguilla. We felt that by attacking St. Kitts we
would give them less incentive to come here (Anguilla)....
I also hoped to bring back Premier Bradshaw and his deputy
Southwell, as hostages. That was the main purpose of the raid... We
adjusted our course for St. Kitts and landed at Half Way Tree. Atlin
(Harrigan) and another chap manned the main boat while I let off
the invading force.
They (the invading) forces) were supposed to link up with Dr.
Herbert (who founded the PAM opposition in St. Kitts).
The overthrow was thwarted because Premier Bradshaw's
Government moved expeditiously. Nevertheless, there were several explosions and
attacks on the Defense Force Headquarters, and Police Force Headquarters in
Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts. Several members of the PAM were arrested.
After a number of legal battles, the cases against the PAM members were
dismissed. The PAM elements and leadership denied they were involved. They
categorized Bradshaw as a manic. It was Ronald Webster who gave the definitive
word on the events when Anguilla eventually left the fold of St. Kitts and Nevis.
On February 18, 1980, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis went to the
polls to select a political team that would lead them into the 1980's Three major
parties contested the general elections that year for the eleven seats in the National
Assembly. Labor and PAM each fielded eight candidates in St. Kitts; the Nevis
Reformation Party fielded three candidates in Nevis. At the end of the day, Labor
and PAM each won Four seats. The PAM, in conjunction with the Nevis
Reformation Party which had won two seats in Nevis, formed a coalition
government and wrestled power from the Labor Party. This was the first time that
this scenario occurred in nearly thirty years in St. Kitts-Nevis .
It is instructive to note that this 1980, 4-4 seat scenario was exactly
the same scenario in the 1993 general elections. In 1980, the former Governor
General, Sir Probyn Innis, gave both major parties of St. Kitts an opportunity to
form a government. Labor could not come to any meaningful arrangement with
the parties in Nevis. This was so because, as was noted, since 1975 the Manifesto
of the NRP had one sentence: "The NRP will strive to gain secession for Nevis
from St. Kitts a privilege enjoyed by the island prior to 1882." This idea was
repeated in the 1980 Manifesto which had one main sentence: "The Nevis
Reformation Party will continue to seek secession for Nevis at all costs." (See
Labor's Green Paper, 1982)
With this in mind, and with the intransigence of the NRP, Governor
Innis left the options opened for the PAM and the NRP to form a coalition
government. They formed such a government, even though the NRP was
adamantly opposed to such a formation prior to the elections. It is to be noted that
the Governor could have opted to ask the Labor Party leader, Attorney Lee L.
Moore, to form the government. Innis did not. Many persons saw him as caving in
to pressures from the business class and from the PAM interests.
The first major action of the new coalition government was to fire
Governor General Innis and appoint a party supporter in the person of Attorney
Clement Arrindell. Paradoxically, it is this same Clement Arrindell who may
people argue may have tipped his hands too early in asking the the NRP/PAM to
form a minority government following the December 29 general elections.
The 1980 coalition government set about redirecting the power base
and largesse from the masses of the people who supported Labor and a sugar-based
economy to an elite group that represented the planter class or vestiges of the
planter-class in spirit and show, though not always in substance.
The crisis that developed in St. Kitts and Nevis in the aftermath of the
General Elections of November 29, 1993, has its roots in the PAM history, its
Machiavellian approach to politics, in its White Paper of 1982' and in the St.
Christopher and Nevis Constitution of 1983.2
First, the PAM's history is a checkered one in its attempt to wrestle
power from Labor and shift party largesse and political dispensations to the
business class and elite structure, away from the masses as represented by Labor
and those advocates who support the principles of Labor. In the 1980 PAM
Manifesto, PAM noted (1980:3) that: "We will provide much needed relief from
oppression, victimization, discrimination, excessive taxation, unemployment and
spiraling cost of living. The evidence was not clear what the government meant
by the rhetoric in the Manifesto. However, the coalition government set about to
ensure that power was institutionalized in such a manner that Labor was not able to
return to the trough of dispensation.
On July 26, 1982, the coalition issued a White Paper entitled
Constitutional Proposals For Saint Christopher and Nevis. The nineteen page
document, in conjunction with the relevant sections of the St. Christopher, Nevis
and Anguilla Constitutional Order of 1967, were intended to form the new
Constitution of an independent St. Kitts and Nevis. Anguilla, having been
encouraged to secede from the State was given safe passage back into the arms of
colonialism as a ward of Britain through the Anguilla Consequential Provisions
Order of 1981.
St. Kitts and Nevis was a State in free association with Britain. Britain
was responsible for defense and external affairs. The St. Christopher and Nevis
Constitution Order of 1983 provided for the termination of the status with Britain.
This termination option was put into effect on September 19, 1983, when the state
gained its independence.
The White Paper was instructive in its attempt at trying to share
power but, at the same time, shifting power away from St. Kitts to Nevis. Initially,
the National Assembly, the Parliament of St. Kitts and Nevis, would have had ten
members. Seven members were to be from St. Kitts and three from Nevis.
From Annex I, ( 1982: p. 3) number 3, "The island of Nevis will have
its own administration to be styled the Nevis Island Administration, and its own
legislature, consisting of the Governor and a legislative body styled the Nevis
Island Assembly." The Nevis Island Assembly was given almost a blank check to
do whatever the politicians of Nevis wanted to do. The Assembly has power to
make laws; to collect and retain revenues, to command the Chief of Police in Nevis
from Nevis and not from St. Kitts and to secede from the Federation of St. Kitts
and Nevis, provided it gave the State Assembly six months notice. According to
paragraphs 32: "The senior police officer in the island of Nevis will be subject to
the general direction (as appropriate) of the Leader of the Nevis Island
Administration." From paragraph 33, "If a Defense Force is stationed in the island
of Nevis, the commander of the Force will likewise be subject (as appropriate) to
the Leader's general direction." (White Paper, 1982: pp. 12-13).
After a great deal of hue and cry from many persons that Nevis was
being given too many broad powers, some minor changes were made. But
fundamentally, as is evidenced in the actions to date and as are noted in the Report
of the Saint Christopher and Nevis Constitutional Conference, (Miscellaneous
No. 2, 1983), Command 8796, many principles were enshrined in the Constitution
that handicapped the people of St. Kitts at the expense of Nevis. In its attempt to
secure power at all costs, to ensure the the ends justify the means in a
Machiavellian manner, the PAM government did not provide any counterpart
local government for St. Kitts, as it had done for Nevis. Hence, while there is a
local government in Nevis, St. Kitts is merely part of the National Assembly by
virtue of the location of the National Assembly in St. Kitts.
The Constitution Order of 1967 was essentially the 1983 Constitution
with the critical provisions relating to Nevis and some internal changes designed to
give power to the NRP/PAM coalition.
First, the House of Assembly was named the National Assembly and
instead of seven members in St. Kitts and two members in Nevis, there were now 8
members in St. Kitts and three in Nevis. From day one, there was always the
statistical probability that there would be a situation in St. Kitts where both parties
will get 4 seats and that there would be a problem, if Nevis politicians refused to
go along with the politicians in St. Kitts. Three Senators (nominated members) are
added to the eleven elected members.
Some selected provisions for the autonomy of Nevis within the
Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis were as follows (Report, January, 1983: para. 19,
(a) There would be a Nevis Island Legislature and
Administration... There would be three nominated members and
five elected members...
(b) The Administration would have exclusive administrative
responsibilities within Nevis for certain matters such as airports
and seaports; education; extraction and processing of minerals;
fisheries; health and welfare.... "
(c) "The Premier of Nevis would have a general direction over
public safety and public order where this did not conflict with
directions given by the Prime Minister. "
(e) "There would be a Deputy Governor-Generalfor the island of
(f) "...As for revenue, that collected by both St. Kitts and Nevis
would be shared between Central Government and the Nevis
Administration on the basis of the percentage of the country's
population found in St. Kitts and Nevis, respectively.... The costs of
Internal Common Services would be borne by reference to the cost
in each island. The cost of External Common Services would be
borne by reference to population. "
(h) The provisions for Nevis to secede from the federation would
require the introduction and passage of a bill in the Nevis
Assembly supported by two-thirds majority of the elected
members. This would subsequently be approved by a
referendum in Nevis by not less than two-thirds of the votes cast
by persons registered on the Parliamentary electoral roll."
It is particularly ironic, as Tony Thorndike noted in the "The Politics
of Inadequacy ", 1977:1) that :
whereas the the British Constitution is a mass of respected norms,
values and conventions resting on a bedrock of Anglo-Saxon "common law" which
is appealed to as and when necessary, the British Government has, at times, gone
to extraordinary lengths in the various parts of her far flung colonial empire to
devise carefully constructed and intricate mechanisms of government...Always
included would be carefully defined constitutional guarantees, a regard for legal
niceties (which were nevertheless capable of different interpretation and hence
political argument), and a passive bureaucracy steeped in the British colonial
tradition and heavily imbued with notions of financial responsibility and political
Thorndike was too kind. He could have said that his national
government had given countries like St. Kitts and Nevis legal conundrums, and
obfuscation designed to confuse the electorate, fool the politicians and, in the
meantime, satisfy Britain's dormant colonial predisposition as an imperial overlord,
constitution or no constitution, independence or no independence.
The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, devised by the leadership of
PAM and agreed to by the British government, was and is, a farcical attempt of
Britain getting rid of what was perceived as a financial millstone from the neck of
The initial suggestion of the White Paper was that St. Kitts would
have seven members and Nevis three. As we indicated in several position papers
in 1980, that meant that based on the 1980 population of St. Kitts and Nevis, Nevis
a with a population of 9, 300 had three seats and St. Kitts with a population of
35,104 had seven seats. On that basis, Nevis with its three representatives in the
National Parliament would have one representative for every 3,100 persons. St.
Kitts, on the other hand, would have one representative for 5,105 persons. Put
another way, in St. Kitts one representative would represent 1,915 more persons
than in Nevis. In another more dramatic manner, a representative in St. Kitts is
would only three-fifths of a representative in Nevis.
We pointed out in 1982 that if there should be a 10-seat Assembly,
there should be eight seats in St. Kitts and two in Nevis. That is, in a 44,404
population, one representative should represent 4,440 persons. The coalition did
change the structure and increased the seats in St. Kitts to eight, but maintained
three seats in Nevis. The National Assembly moved form ten seats to eleven seats.
In this case the situation was that in Nevis one member represented 3,100 persons,
and in St. Kitts, one member represented 4,388 persons, or a margin of 1,288
persons. The new and present arrangement is that a St. Kitts representative is
only seven-tenths of a Nevis representative.
II. CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY OF THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL
The Governor-General's authority hails in its initial stages from the
from the old St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla Constitution Order of 1967.
That Order was revised and updated through section 5 (4) of the West Indies Act
of 1967 (a) thereby ushering in the St. Christopher and Nevis Constitution Order
of 1983. (Independence Magazine, 1983:16)
Where Premier and Governor were in the old 1967 Constitution
Order, Prime Minister and Governor General were inserted. Hence, it is
specifically stated in the Constitution Order of 1967, Chapter IV, 50 (2 (p. 35):
Whenever the Governor has occasion to appoint a Premier he shall
appoint an elected member of the House of Assembly who appears to
him, acting in his own deliberate judgment, likely to command the
support of the majority of the elected members of the House."
In the 1983 Constitution, Premier is replaced with Prime Minister, Governor is
replaced with Governor General, and House of Assembly is replaced with National
Assembly. Section 50 (2) of the old order is Section 52 (2) of the 1983
On December 30, 1993, the Peoples Action Movement and the lone
member of the Nevis Reformation Party formed a coalition of 5 seats versus Labor
4 seats and the Concerned Citizens Movement 2 seats. The question that arose was,
was the Governor General correct in exercising his authority in appointing Dr.
Kennedy Simmonds as Prime Minister under the constitutional provisions as set
out in section 52 (2)?
The issue of salience is, is the Governor General correct in his
interpretation of the relevant phrase, he "shall appoint an elected member of the
National Assembly who appears to him, acting in his own deliberate judgment,
likely to command the support of the majority of the elected Representatives" of
the National Assembly?
The Governor General is an honorable man. The Governor General is
a wise counselor. It must have occurred to him that a Government of 5 seats is not
a majority in a National Assembly of 11 seats. In the normal mathematical
arrangement, a majority in an eleven member Parliament is 6 seats. In this case, 6
members were in opposition to the Government which was permitted to be
coalesced with the NRP/PAM arrangement. What, therefore, caused the Governor
Governor to agree to go along with a deliberate misinterpretation of the
conventional notion of a majority?
Six perspectives are offered in answer to this question.
(1) The Governor General must have given little or no importance to
the concept of majority.
(2) the Governor General must have thought, in his own deliberate
judgment, that neither Dr. Denzil Douglas, Leader of the Labor Party, nor Vance
Amory, leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement, was able to command the
majority of the elected members of the National Assembly. He must have done this
by gut-feeling, not statistics or precedence.
(3) The Governor General must have been mindful of the fact that he
was appointed by the PAM in 1980, following the dismissal of the former
Governor, Sir Probyn Innis. He may have, therefore, overcompensated in favor of
the PAM party and not in favor of the country.
(4) The Governor General may have been coerced, under duress, to
make a decision, when he was confronted with the PAM members at Government
House on December 2, 1993. He must have been given an ultimatum, to form a
government or suffer the fate of job loss like his predecessor.
(5) The Governor General may have been fed up with the apparent
dalliance and lethargy of Vance Amory, leader of the Concerned Citizens
Movement, in not coming to a speedy decision to align himself with some group in
St. Kitts to form a legitimate statistical majority, as is conventionally perceived.
(6) The Governor General may have gone along with the NRP/PAM
Government because he may have felt that he was beholden to power who were
behind PAM, namely the business community and some nouveau riche in St. Kitts.
(7) In the end, the Governor General may have gone along with the
minority government because he may have felt that that, in his own deliberate
judgment, the leader of PAM was the one person that he though was best able to
command a majority of members to conduct business in the National Assembly.
If it is assumed that the six of the possibilities can be dismissed,
except the fact that the Governor General gave little importance to the the concept
of majority, can the Governor General change his mind and right his "wrong"
action? The 1967 original Constitution and the Independence Constitution all
provide for such a move on the part of the Governor-General. In the old 1967
Constitutional Order, Section 50 (7, p. 36) states:
"The Governor, acting in his own deliberate judgment, may remove
the Premier from Office if, at any time between the holding of a
general election of the elected members of the House of Assembly
and the date on which the House first meets thereafter, the
Governor, acting in his own deliberate judgment, considers that in
consequence of change in membership of the House resulting from
that election the Premier will not be able to command the support
of the majority of the elected members of the House. "
The Independence Constitution maintains the same language, Section
"....If. at any time between the holding of a general election of
Representatives and the first meeting of the National Assembly thereafter, the
Governor-General considers that in consequence of changes in the
membership of the Assembly resulting from that election, the Prime Minister
will not be able to command the support of the majority of the
Representatives the Governor-General may remove the Prime Minister from
If it appears that the Governor General may have erred in exercising
his deliberate judgment, can he resolved this problematic situation? The
Constitution states that the Governor-General may; it did not say he must.
Furthermore, he has nobody but his own deliberate judgment on which to make
Fundamentally, however, Governor General, Sir Clement Arindell's
action in permitting the coalition government of five members when there exists
six members in a collective opposition, was tantamount to inducing instability in
the body politics of the State of St. Kitts and Nevis. Rationalizations to the
contrary, and legal legerdemain in support, are masking in rhetoric of
convenience while not taking into consideration the fundamental orientation and
thrust of what was taking place in the systemic underpinnings of the state.
The outcome of the Governor General's action was that the day after
he permitted the minority government to be formed, the people took to the streets
in protest. This protest developed because many persons, Labor supporters and
others, felt that the Governor-General acted incorrectly. They felt that PAM was
attempting to hijack the electoral process under a warped sense of constitutional
interpretation. Furthermore, they felt that even though Vance Amory did not make
the appropriate move to form the government with Labor, that the Governor
General acted in haste to let NRP/PAM form a government.
To appreciate the substance of some of these comments, we need to
understand the Vance's Amory's factor, the role of the Christian Council, and the
marginality of victories in St. Kitts and the electoral shift of support between Labor
and PAM in St. Kitts, the main arena of contention.
III. THE VANCE AMORY FACTOR
Vance Amory, leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement, Premier
of Nevis Island Assembly and member of the Federal Government, refused to join
with any party in St. Kitts to form a coalition government. On December 1,
therefore, after the Governor-General swore in the NRP/PAM government at
Government House, an unusual move, since new governments traditionally were
sworn in at Government Headquarters, in pomp and circumstance, many persons
took to the streets in civil disobedience.
The Labor Party leadership, its supporters and sympathizers,
contended that the Governor General had not given them enough time to come to a
workable solution to the impasse. The Governor General was of the view that he
had given Amory, Dr. Douglas and others, ample time. He wanted to make a
decision, and he wanted to move expeditiously.
In my discussion with Vance Amory (December 3), in his home in
Nevis, he told me that he and his party campaigned on the issue that they will not
be involved in the Federal government by way of a coalition with any parties in St.
Kitts. He was guided by history when the NRP coalesced with the PAM. That
marriage did not work out to the long-term benefit of the people of Nevis. His
party's concern was with the local government of Nevis. I informed him that I
though it was important that he assume the opportunity to be Prime Minister of the
State, because that is what he was being offered by the Labor Party, if he so
desired. He insisted that he could not go back on his promises to the people of
Nevis. I told him that I believe that he would be forgiven if he delivered promises
to the people and explained the peculiar circumstances under which he found
I reiterated the following points: (1) the need for him to assume the
mantle of Prime Minister; (2) the economic stability in the country; (3) the need to
make a quick decision, given that the outside world is watching, and the slow
process of decision-making is not good for investors; (4) the fact that the Eastern
Caribbean Central Bank is now putting up a new building in St. Kitts, and that a St.
Kitts-Nevis unstable government could create instability for the rest of the OECS;
(5) the fact that he, as Prime Minister, could orient the development process in
the State to Nevis, and get, for the first time, the many benefits that Nevis is due
and benefits that are long overdue.
Amory seemed particularly pained in his thought about what to do.
His advisor, Attorney Ted Hobson, was the master person behind the scene.
Hobson seemed to be caught in a fantasy world wherein he believed that his party
would not stand by and let a government be formed in St. Kitts with any coalition
forces from Nevis. In my discussion with Amory, and paradoxically while we were
still on his verandah, Ted Hobson was on Voice of Nevis (VON) radio spelling out
what CCM would not do: namely, not join with any parties in St. Kitts. What
Hobson did not say is, what will CCM do to assume power and use that economic
and political power to assist the people of Nevis.
While Ted Hobson and Vance Amory remained inflexible, the
Governor General opted to move on the path of least resistance. He opted to ask
NRP in the person of Joseph Parry and PAM in the person of Dr. Kennedy
Simmonds to form a government. As was noted earlier, whether Arrindell took
this action freely, or was forced into taking the action, or misinterpreted the
Constitution, is not known. The fact is, the Governor General's actions, the PAM's
insistence that they form the government precipitated. The mass of people who
supported Labor saw the new coalition government as a stumbling block to
progress. They believed that the new government would continue to operate as it
had operated in the past. Many Labor supporters and others saw PAM bent again
on using tactics that left much to be desired, as far as benefits of the State were
allocated to PAM's party supporters, and not to Labor supporters. The Governor
General's action, under PAM's instigation, must be seen as precipitating the crisis
in the State.
The minority government attempted to enter Government
Headquarters which had been secured with barbed-wires and cordoned off under
heavily armed Police and Defense Force. This highly undemocratic, and unusual
scenario inflamed an already volatile situation.
A day after the government was formed on December 1, 1993, people
took to the streets. The Governor General, in an apparent show of force, declared a
state of emergency and a dawn to dusk curfew: 6 p.m. to 6 am.
A few points are worthy on note. Amory's role in the whole scenario
comes off as weak. It appears that he was not acting decisively. In fact he had
made a decision not to interfere in the local politics in St. Kitts. Ted Hobson had
said as much on Voice of Nevis Radio at 1:40 p.m. on December 1, 1993. Ted said
that "the CCM will not will not join with any party in St. Kitts; furthermore, he
noted, "the CCM will not standby and let PAM and NRP form a government.
CCM was prepared to form a Government of National Reconciliation for six
months. Vance Amory was to be Prime Minister. There were supposed to be three
members from Labor and three from PAM." Labor agreed to this idea. PAM
At about 2:30, the Governor General came on VON and ZIZ radio of
St. Kitts an announced that in his view, and under the Constitution, Section 52, (2),
he was asking Kennedy Simmonds to form the new government.
'The Governor General gave the impression that Amory was
intransigent. But in fact, Vance had written to the Governor General indicating that
he envisaged a crisis if a minority government was formed. The Governor General
denied this. Amory subsequently made the letter public.
In the letter, dated December 2, 1993, Vance Amory noted in
"I do recall suggesting to you, Sir, given the impasse where two
parties in St. Kitts captured four seats each at the polls, and with
each party feeling it had the right (either constitutionally or morally)
to form a government and, from my vantage point, of having very
intense requests made to me to join some party and further
recognizing the potentially contentious situation in St. Kitts, that an
Interim Government be set up comprising members of all successful
parties for a period of six months after which fresh elections would
be held so that the people could speak again.
This suggestion was not accepted as having no basis in the
The Governor General attempted to be a strict constitutionalist. But
indeed he used his reserved powers to interpret, in his own best judgment, what he
though was best for the country.
IV THE ROLE OF THE CHRISTIAN COUNCIL
From the very beginning of the elections, the St. Kitts Christian
Council was actively involved in monitoring the elections and trying to ensure that
peace and good order prevailed in the State. After the State of Emergency was
declared on December 2, 1993, the St. Kitts Christian Council and the St. Kitts
Evangelical Association arranged a meeting between the Prime Minister
Simmonds and Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labor Party, Dr. Denzil Douglas. The
meeting was held on Friday December 3, 1993 at the office of the Christian
Council. In the St. Kitts Christian Council Press Release of December 3, 1993, the
following points were discussed:
1. The need for a lasting solution to the political impasse in the
aftermath of the General Elections.
2. The need to return the country to a state of peace and normalcy
In the context of the above issues, all parties agreed:
1. That both Leaders should speak out against the violence and let
people know that it is wrong. They should also make statements on
National Radio and Television to this effect.
2. That there was a need for the Country to return to normal. As soon
as this is in place, the removal of the State of Emergency would be
3. Fresh, early elections would be held within a period of six
months in relation to the state of the country.
4. Both leaders would prepare their statements overnight and present
them to the Christian Council and Evangelical Association for
scrutiny the next morning, Saturday, December 4, 1993.
5. The Religious Organizations would also make a broadcast
following these statements.
At the end of the meeting, the Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis
Labor Party indicated that he would discuss the six-month period
with his people and report back to the organizers of the meeting in
The meeting ended in very high spirits and on a note of optimism
with prayer and handshakes between all the participants."
The state of the country, in the meantime, was one of chaos, calm, and
confusion, depending on whose perspective you listened to, or on what medium
you listened. There was rioting in Basseterre after the police threw tear gas at the
people assembled at Government Headquarters. A police office officer threw tear
gas at the crowd, in which Dr. Denzil Douglas was speaking. This may have been
deliberately done, or done in panic. The fact is, it exacerbated an already tense
Many persons went on a rampage in Basseterre. They selectively
damaged Government Headquarters and those businesses which were supporters of
the PAM party. Houses of some ordinary citizens who were strong PAM
supporters, were also destroyed.
Dr. Simmonds took this occasion to ask for and receive military help
from the regional security force based in Barbados. Prime Minister Sandiford, of
Barbados, was told, we are reliably informed, that the whole of Basseterre,
including Government Headquarters, was on under siege. Without verifying the
veracity of the situation, Prime Minister Sandiford sent members of the Regional
Security Forces to St. Kitts. Some went directly to St. Kitts and some were on
standby in Antigua. The people had spoken. The government leaders and their
advisers were in a mood of revenge. Talk was in the air about locking up the Labor
Party leaders and their supporters. After a few days, the 21 day curfew and state
of emergency were changed to reflect the quiet mood of the people. There was no
looting. The people had made their point. What should PAM and others have
noted over the events leading up to the election, over the last elections, and from
the results of the elections of November 29, 1993?
V MARGINALITIES OF VICTORIES
If the people in the PAM party were cognizant of the the dynamics of
the political process, they would have observed, over the last several years, that
there was a level of frustration with their style of leadership. They would also
have noticed that the many young persons were becoming disillusioned with the
Party and were making alternative choices. What they should have realized was
that during the election campaign, the youngsters and other well-respected persons
in St. Kitts were making a conscious effort to be associated with Labor, or were
saying that "this time around Labor has to win. "
When we observed the electoral process on the days leading up to the
elections, and when we evaluated the crowds at the various meetings around the
island of St. Kitts, it looked like Labor would win, if the crowds translated into
votes. The fact that Labor had a relatively younger group of candidates than PAM ,
a group that was putting forward a more dynamic philosophic approach to the
principles of labor, meant that PAM was, for the first time, challenged. PAM was
in an organizational quandary. The elections campaign of both parties were well
run, but Labor had the edge in terms of its electronic impact on the masses. Both
parties used reggae music and the rastafarian symbolism as opening music, prior
to members delivering their political spiel. Gossip, curses and other gutter-style
politics were sometimes used. By and large, it was not as bad as it could have been.
There were no injuries; no murders. The people in St. Kitts talk, but they rarely go
beyond talk. In fact, that is precisely the point I made to Debbie Ramsome of the
British Broadcasting Corporation (London) on December 2, 1993, in my live
interview with her, from the BBC studios, via telephone.
At the end of the day, the results indicated that Labor had engineered
a massive turn around in the political perspectives of the people. The narrowness
of victories was a wake-up call to the PAM. In Table One we present the results.
There we note the marginality of the victories. We suggest that the strategists in
PAM should have been on the ball. They should have tried to decipher what
would be the likely scenarios in the election. They should have done, as the Labor
Party did, and get a reputable pollster to determine the mood of the people and get
a view regarding where they think the party fortunes were going, and what, if any,
were the likely ramifications stemming from different seat combinations. If a Party
and its personnel are arrogant, there is always that possibility that the personnel
may not pay any attention to polls. We are not sure to what extent the PAM may
have ignored polls on the pretext that polls do not determine elections. Labor tried,
even though they, too, could have been a little more organized in anticipating the
likely seat scenarios.
ELECTION RESULTS IN ST. KITTS-NEVIS, 1993
VOTES CAST LABOR PAM UPP SPOILT
SK1 2425 1116 965 332 12
SK2 2885 1385 1417 73 10
SK3 1714 1106 606 0 2
SK4 1362 666 676 16 4
SK5 1407 555 778 73 1
SK6 1515 1320 191 0 4
SK7 1797 1119 647 26 5
SK8 2399 1138 1169 85 7
TOTAL 15,504 8,405 6,449 605 45
CCM NRP IND SPOILT
N 1554 857 692 1 4
N 896 680 216 0 0
N 1302 563 733 0 6
TOTAL 3,752 2,100 1,641 1 10
Source: Elections Office, St. Kitts and Nevis. (SK = St. Kitts; N = Nevis).
The total votes in the eleven districts were 29,987. In St. Kitts, there
were 23, 270 and in Nevis 6, 715. Total votes cast in the state was 19,256 or a
voter participation rate of 64.21%. In St. Kitts 15,504 persons voted for a voter
participation rate of 66.62%. In Nevis, 3,752 voters voted for a voter participation
rate of 55.87%.
In terms of popular votes, we note from Figure One that Labor
obtained 8,405 while PAM obtained 6,409. Labor's victory margin was 1,906
votes. The UPP of former PAM Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Powell, was a
distant third with 606 votes. This was a contest between Labor and PAM.
e RESULTS OF DECEMBER 29,1993 ELECTIONS
IN ST. KITTS AMONG LABOR, PAM AND UPP
The pie chart, Figure Two, shows Labor with 54.2%; PAM 41.9%; UPP 3.9%.
POPULAR VOTES CAST (BY PERCENTAGE)
UPP, PAM AND LABOR, DECEMBER 29, 1993
rr/TRE TwO I
RESULTS OF DECEMBER 29.1993 ELECTIONS
IN ST. KITTS BETWEEN LABOUR AND PAM
S. B. JONES-HENDRICKSONS GRAPHS
Frr/ Two. Z
RESULTS OF DECEMBER 29, 1993 ELECTIONS
IN ST. KITTS AMONG LABOUR, PAM AND UPP
Martin .""""""""""". 1116
Powell 332 1
Heyliger, H. 778
Caines 9 191
Harris """" 1119
Williams 26 LABOUR
Morris 1169 PAM
Welcome = 85 I UPP
0 500 1000 1500
S. B. JONES-HENDRICKSONS GRAPHS
MARGIN OF VICTORY FOR LABOR AND PAM
CANDIDATES: DECEMBER 29, 1993 ELECTIONS
SIMMONDS 32 WINNERS
S223 _, WINNERS
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
It is instructive to consider the margin of victories of the winning
candidates. We note from Figure Three that the four Labor candidates, Martin,
Harris, Condor and Douglas won by a combined 2,252 votes, or an average of
563 votes per candidate. On the other hand, the PAM winning candidates of
Mitchum, Morris, Simmonds and Heyliger won by a combined total of 296
votes, or an average of 74. The issue is not popularity in votes. The issue is who
"first passes the post" wins. However, in the context of the 1993 elections, astute
politicians would have noticed that stalwarts like Morris, Heyliger and Simmonds
all won by reduced margins. Furthermore, all of the candidates who challenged
Mitchum, Simmonds and Heyliger were first time candidates in the political arena.
The showing of first time candidates Astaphan, Herbert, Charles and
Harris is commendable, given the PAM candidates against whom the Labor
candidates ran. In the case of Dr. Simmonds, the Prime Minister, he was barely
able to hang on to his seat by a margin of victory of 32. If after 14 years in Office,
a Prime Minister can only beat a first time candidate by 32 votes, the Prime
Minister, if he is an astute politician, should awake to the realization that a wind of
change was blowing. PAM failed to recognize the wind of change. And if even
they did recognize the change, they were afraid to be part of the change that was
sweeping St. Kitts.
As one astute observer noted to me, it seems as if the PAM had too
much at stake after 14 years in Office. They had grown so fat on the largesse
of the land that they had gotten too comfortable. PAM may have so much at
stake, or so much to hide, or so much that they were afraid would be revealed,
if they were thrown out of Office, that they tried to hang on to political
power for dear life.
VI SHIFTS AND SWINGS
In 1980 when the NRP/PAM combined to form the first coalition
government in St. Kitts, Labor won 4 seats and PAM won four seats. That year,
also, Labor 6,914 votes and PAM won 4,990 votes or a Labor margin of 1,924.
PAM combined with three NRP candidates and formed a government. In the
course of things they fired the Governor, and sought to give to Nevis an unusual
share of the political an economic pie. As we note from Figure Four, the shifts
went completely to PAM in 1984, as a result of the largesse of the 1983
POPULAR VOTES: LABOR AND PAM, 1980-1993
0 ,L --- . / LOR
1980 1984 1989 1993
From a seat allocation, "the first past the post", as we see in Figure
Five, Labor and PAM each got four seats in 1980. The shift was one to PAM in
1984, and one more to PAM in 1989. From a total of 6 seats in 1989 for PAM and
a total of 2 in 1989 for Labor, PAM lost two seats and Labor gained two seats in
SEATS WON: LABOR AND PAM, 1980-1993
The numbers are more revealing in another perspective. In 1989
14,412 votes were cast for Labor and PAM. Labor received 6,687 or 46.40% and
PAM received 7,725 or 53.60%. PAM's margin of victory in popular votes was
7.2%. Conversely, Labor's lost was minus 7.2%. In 1993, 14,854 voters voted for
Labor and PAM. Labor received 8,405 or 56.58% whereas PAM received 6, 449
or 43.42%. This was a margin of popularity of 13.16% or minus 13.16% lost for
PAM. In essence between 1989 and 1993, PAM suffered a 20.36% shift in
popularity. This is the bane of much of what was at the root of the political
impasse after the 1993 General Elections in St. Kitts and Nevis.
In the final analysis, popularity is not the essence of the elections. It
is first past the post. What can be done in the future?
The General Elections in the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis on
November 29, 1993 and the subsequent events which occasioned the formation of
a minority government, rioting in the streets of Basseterre, the imposition of a dusk
to dawn curfew and a state of emergency, are all central in the position we now put
forward by way of a conclusion to this paper on the political impasse and stalemate
in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Governor General Sir Clement Arrindell, no doubt, may still believe
that his actions to permit a minority of 5 persons to form a government in a
National Assembly of 11 is acceptable, if there are no legal challenges. Arrindell
seemed to be wedded to a constancy of convenience when he should have been
opened to a paradigmatic shift in the body politic of the state. A constitution is a
living document. It is not moribund. It is open to interpretation and it is open to
challenges. However, in any and every political process, a decision-maker has to
bear in mind the fundamentals and principles that will move a state forward and
avoid those precepts and concepts that will retard and serve to handicap the
A person in decision-making, like a Governor General or a Prime
Minister, must also be mindful of the fact that sometimes political rhetoric has to
be garbed in practical expediency. If the State is to be above self and party
interests, then the State and the people are really to be paramount in the final
decision-making process. Those who cannot put the State truly above themselves,
in a selfless manner, ought not to be in politics. In St. Kitts, the November 1993
elections raised questions of freedom, poverty, class interests as espoused by PAM,
socioeconomic interests as marshaled by the Labor Party, and sectional interests as
played out in the interstices of the Nevis/ St. Kitts dichotomy. It is instructive to
note, that not a single Head of Government sent any early recognition or sent
congratulations to the NRP/PAM That was unusual.
A CARICOM COMMUNITY Press Release of December 20, 1993
(105/1993), noted, paragraph two:
"The Bureau reaffirmed the fundamental importance which the
Caribbean Community places on democracy and good governance. Accordingly,
the Bureau expresses its strong hope that every effort will be made by all
concerned in St. Kitts and Nevis to ensure full respect for the wishes of the
people, through a generally acceptable solution, which fully respects democratic
norms and the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Heads of Government and the Caribbean Community stand ready to
lend all possible assistance and support to those concerned which they might
consider helpful to the resolution of this situation."
Absent of the double talk in this CARICOM Press Release, the
document said essentially what Labor and its supporters and friends were saying. If
Simmonds and the PAM felt that they had a right to form a government, they
should go back to the Polls and get a clear majority. This is what was done in St.
Lucia on two occasions, some years ago. However, since it is easier for a camel to
go through the eye of a needle than for a politician to give up power, Simmonds
opted for the path of more resistance and obstinacy. He refused to listen to talk of a
new election, and he broke a promise of new elections on the grounds that Dr.
Douglas had announced the St. Kitts Christian Council agreement before he,
Simmonds, had announced it. Here was a situation where ideas of simplicity were
being carried on the shoulders of grandeur for personal aggrandizement, and not
for the enhancement of the peoples' welfare.
Caribbean politicians have to rethink the first past the post syndrome
that is endemic to the political process in our region. In a paper entitled "Politics,
Politicians and the Welfare of the People (1994:4) we note that "anachronism of
the 'first past the post' is a scintillating abuse of power (particularly when) who first
past the post are marginal cases." In a sense what this means is that a person can
win by 1, 10, 31 or 32 votes and that person can assume a mantle of authority
which may not be in conformance with reality. Furthermore, the rival or the loser
in the race, with his marginal defeat, will be unable to represent his supporters, and
more importantly, will be unable to obtain benefits for his supporters. To the extent
that all of the people pay taxes, to that extent, the people, all of the people, should
have access to the benefits of the State, the benefits of the public purse.
"First past the post" puts power in the hands of the winners and puts
the vanquished out to pasture. We need to reconsider this system in light of the fact
that politicians are merely the servants of the people. It is the people who must
give the imprimatur to politicians. It is important that the process be such that
proportional representation be seem as a more democratic and more effective way
of allowing all of the people to be part of the process of political and economic
transformation of their states. It cannot be that because one voted for the losing
party that that person should be put out to pasture for five years, or five times five,
as the case may be. The current "first past the post" puts a level of dictatorship in
the hands of the Prime Minister, all wrapped in the veil of constitutionalism. The
Constitution is used as a sheaf not for beneficence, but for intransigence and
arrogance. In small States, such as St. Kitts and Nevis, where manpower is critical,
all persons are important in the system. Persons who are put out to pasture, who are
marginalized, may never get the opportunity to make a contribution to their
country, if they vote for the "wrong party." The problem is, what is termed wrong
may only be one vote, ten votes or thirty-one votes differentials.
We call for a new system of proportional representation because it
permits all persons to be actors in a system that is geared for the good of all. If the
greater good is to be enhanced, if the cultural, political, economic and societal
patrimony of our people are to be improved, then it cannot be that one political
party will have a monopoly on the resonance of cultural attributes that will push
the country or the state forward. Today it will take all of us, in our respective
ways, to contribute to the enhancement of our countries. After the political
jostings, the work will begin. In carrying out the work of state, compromise and
different postures and perspectives must be permitted. It therefore means that
Heads of State, be they Governor Generals, Prime Ministers, or others, have to
work in a concerted fashion to marshal the available intellectual, economic and
political forces in the State to move the countries along the cyberspace of
knowledge. We can no longer be mired in tribal wars of class, disrespect,
parochialism or insularity. Those features are anachronistic. In this regard the
actions of Governor General Arrindell, the arrogance of Dr. Kennedy Simmonds,
and the inflexibility of Vance Amory following the November 29, 1993 elections
in St. Kitts and Nevis, must be seen as features that caused the stalemate and
impasse. Labor and its party supporters may have taken the situation too far in
showing their disgust, as in the case of the rioting. But as we look around the
world we see Bosnia-Herzegovinia, we see South Africa, we see Northern Ireland,
we see Rwanda. What we see are episodic interventions of hatred and disease
made manifest in out living rooms, in technicolor. It is difficult to be removed
from the endemic violence.
In the final analysis, all parties, Labor, PAM, UPP and their
respective supporters, have to put the country above their petty tribalism and
move forward in a concerted manifest level of goodwill of building the country.
Anything short of this concerted effort will cause more confusion and less
cohesion. The time is now to start. Fresh elections in St. Kitts and Nevis must be a
sine qua non to move forward.
1. See White Paper: Constitutional Proposals For St. Christopher and Nevis,
July 26, 1982. See also Jones-Hendrickson, "Comments on the St. Kitts-Nevis
White Paper, August 1982; typescript).
2. Saint Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla Constitution Order, 1967, Statutory
Instruments, 1967, No. 228, Associated States.
3. See the St. Christopher Nevis Independence Magazine (1983:16)
1. CHRISTIAN COUNCIL, PRESS RELEASE, Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 3, 1993.
2. CARICOM, CC PRESS RELEASE, CARICOM SECRETARIAT: Guyana, No. 105, 1993,
December 20, 1993.
3. GOVERNMENT OF ST. KITTS AND NEVIS AND ANGUILLA, St. Christopher and
Nevis and Anguilla Order, 1967, (London: HMSO, 1967), No. 228.
4. GOVERNMENT OF ST. KITTS AND NEVIS, Report Of the Saint Christopher and Nevis I
Constitutional Conference, (London: HMSO, January, 1983).
5. GOVERNMENT OF ST. KITTS AND NEVIS, St. Christopher and Nevis Constitutional
Of 1983, (London: HMSO, 1983)
6. GOVERNMENT OF ST. KITTS AND NEVIS, Independence Magazine, (Basseterre, St.
Kitts, September 19, 1993)
7 GOVERNMENT OF ST. KITTS AND NEVIS, Electoral Office Election Results, General
Elections, November 29, 1993. (Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 1, 1993).
8. JONES-HENDRICKSON, S. B. "Comments on the NRP/PAM White Paper," mimeo,
(August 6, 1982).
9. JONES-HENDRICKSON, S. B. "Politics, Politicians and the Peoples' Welfare." Paper
presented to The Anguilla Cultural Festival, The Valley, Anguilla, February 8-11, 1994.
10. ST. KITIS-NEVIS LABOR PARTY, "Labor' Party Response to the NRPO/PAM White
On Constitutional Proposals for St. St. Kitts-Nevis" ( A GREEN PAPER), July, 1982.
11. THE PEOPLES ACTION MOVEMENT, Manifesto For Better Living, 1980, (Basseterre,
St. Kitts, 1980).
12. THORNDIKE, TONY, "The Politics of Inadequacy: A Study of the Associated Statehood
Negotiations and Political Arrangements for the Eastern Caribbean, 1965-66, Caribbean
Studies Conference, University of York, March-April, 1977.
13. WEBSTER, RONALD. Scrapbook of Anguilla's Revolution, Seabreakers: Anguilla, 1987.