I JSSN 0008-- 6495
as l ean Quarterly
Volume 27 No. 1
VOL. 27 No. 1
Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.
1 Public Opinion and the 1980 Elections in Jamaica
20 Electoral Reform in Jamaica
32 Electoral Behaviour in Montserrat
42 Elections and Politics in the Eastern Caribbean: July 1979 to August 1980
63 Contemporary Radical Third World Regimes: Prospects for their Survival
Miles D. Wolpin
95 Color, Class and Politics in Jamaica by Aggrey Brown
reviewed by Rex Nettleford
95 From Dessalines to Duvalier by David Nicholls
reviewed by J. Michael Dash
99 Notes on Contributors
100 Books Received
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
Hon. R.M. Nettleford, O.M., Professor of Extra-Mural Studies (Editor)
Lloyd Brathwaite, Pro Vice-Chancellor, St. Augustine, Trinidad
Sir Sidney Martin, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Cave Hill, Barbados
Roy Augier, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Mona, Jamaica
G.A.O. Alleyne, Professor, Department of Medicine, Mona
Lloyd Coke, Department of Botany, Mona
Neville McMorris, Department of Physics, Mona
Janet Liu Terry, Associate Editor
All correspondence and contributions should be addressed to:
Department of Extra-Mural Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
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University Centre in any West Indian Territory served by this University.
The politics of post-colonialism in the Commonwealth Caribbean is centrally concerned
with the structural transformation of the newly independent or partially selfgoverning
territories. This, some seek to do through socio-economic policies that would be regarded
as radical or revolutionary by both those who are either committed to or disturbed by the
disruption of change. Part of the quest for the strategies to achieve this is the reorganisa-
tion of power itself. By this is meant the ordering of designs relating to how that power,
recently transferred from metropolitan Britain, is to be redistributed and re-located. In
other words, who is to take the decisions of national moment now that the expatriate
viceroys have departed? What classes) of persons, what race or colour of persons even,
what ideological grouping of men and women, what age-range or mix of gender from the
native population should be allowed to both define the new polity and follow through
with action on the basis of such definitionss?
Many Third World countries in the Americas have, according to Miles Wolpin, (see
below), settled for professional militarism even while invoking or exploiting radical
populism. But the "coup" has long been regarded even by Caribbean 'progressives' as a
political species that is alien to Commonwealth Caribbean traditions, until the island of
Grenada broke the chain of events with a "revolution" against the corrupt and oppressive
regime of the albeit elected Eric Gairy. To many in the region that event, though apposite
in the political circumstances of the time, remains an unfortunate abberration of the hal-
lowed Westminster norm and, at last, the sorry exception that proves the golden rule. For
the rule remains to many in the region the use of frequent, free and fair elections as the
rhetoric of Westminster parliamentary politics designates the quinquennial ritual of
choosing leaders through the ballot-box. The cardinal sin of the Maurice Bishop regime
in Grenada, according to its most ardent detractors, is the withholding of that kind of
ritual from the people of Grenada. And despite Mr Bishop's claim that democracy
flourishes in his island-state in terms of providing the general populace with freedom from
hunger, ignorance and disease as well as offering them a sense of place and purpose
through actual participation in the taking of decisions, his colleagues in the Caribbean
Community have repeatedly indicated that they would be less uneasy were such freedoms
legitimized by the formal polling of votes, however imperfectly, in open elections rather
than by unilaterally maintaining political authority acquired, as it were, through the
barrel of a gun. Many would probably say that this position on elective politics is a
'natural feature' of the political culture of that part of the Caribbean which grew up
under the 300-year-old tutelage of Great Britain, the "mother of Parliaments".
Events over the past eighteen months would tend to give credence to this view. For
the electorates in six Eastern Caribbean islands and Jamaica went to the polls between
November 1978 and October 1980. General elections took place in Montserrat in
November 1978, in St Lucia on July 2, 1979, in St Vincent on December 5 of the same
year, in St Kitts-Nevis on February 18, 1980, in Antigua on April 24, 1980 and in
Dominica on August 29, 1980. Dr Lindel Smith in his article Elections and Politics in the
Eastern Caribbean: July 1979 to August 1980 quite properly suggests that it is difficult
to attempt to look at the elections and the politics of the islands in any general way
because of the different circumstances in which each of the elections were held. He
further suggests that the "wind of change" was felt largely in those territories where one
party had occupied the seat of government for fifteen years and over. Montserrat,
judging from Howard Fergus's account in his article Electoral Behaviour in Montserrat, is
a clear exception. The emergence of left-wing parties in the various islands, with or with-
out the benefit of electoral legitimation, is seen as a factor worth discussing however; and
Dr Smith optimistically concludes that given the socio-economic situation existing in
the islands, the future of these left-wing parties may be secured.
-The Jamaican general election of October 31, 1980 would seemingly contest Dr
Smith's conclusion for "approximately 30% of the voters who supported the PNP" (the
People's National Party) led by a populist and charismatic leader who declared a democra-
tic-socialist ideology, switched to the more conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)
which campaigned on a platform of bringing back to Jamaica an undoubtedly moderate
programme of developmental change. Such substantive issues are very much the subject
of Public Opinion and the 1980 Election in Jamaica by Carl Stone. But as the leading
and most credible psephologist in the region, Dr Stone sheds further light in his contribu-
tion on the voting patterns in the 1980 election with an impressive battery of statistical
data and a sharp-edged analysis which takes into account the historical trends since 1944
when the country had its first general election under universal adult suffrage. He makes
the following prediction about Jamaican electoral behaviour based on his research:
"... loyal party voting will continue to be weak and the future elections are likely to see
volatile and unstable voting patterns similar to the trends initiated in the 1980 election.
Its basis", he concludes, "lies in the severity of the economic crisis facing the country and
on the reality that neither the more moderate JLP elected to power in October 1980 nor
the left of centre PNP promoting socialist reforms have it within their grasp to solve these
problems that provoke revolts within the electorate."
Such "revolts" arising out of the anguish of frustrated aspirations to economic better-
ment among the mass of the people, are not always neatly conducted within the ordered
framework of electoral contest, as Miles Wolpin in his article Contemporary Radical Third
World Regimes, reminds his readers. "A third related development [i.e. besides the
emergence of communist-led parties or radical-socialist political elites] is the growing
attraction of radical socio-economic policies to professional military officers." Regarded
as a 'Latin-American phenomenon' by many Anglophone Caribbean inhabitants, such a
development shares with experience in that self-same Caribbean some common charac-
teristics. These turn, indeed, on the inherent contradictions to be found in radical
regimes, socialist or otherwise. Small wonder, then, that such regimes "facilitate the
success of destabilizing intervention" since, according to Dr Wolpin, "the unintegrated
values and incentive structure of the radical systems themselves" are a major contributory
factor to "the uneven and poor performance of such weakly legitimized regimes in social,
economic and political areas." The democratic socialist PNP regime was regarded by its
supporters at home and abroad as fair game for CIA interventionist activities and by its
detractors as administratively inept making it ripe, by October 1980, for rejection despite
the electoral legitimacy it enjoyed after 1976 when it won a landslide victory over the
opposition JLP. The election issues of mismanagement of the public sector, violation of
the values of the bourgeois synthesis bequeathed by the imperial power, and betrayal of
the sturdy middle class which provided the leadership for both the self-government
movement and the institutions of growth all find resonant echo in Miles Wolpin's percep-
tion of the situation in Latin-American "socialist" polities. While the upper class are
partially expropriated and therefore antagonized, their residual socio-economic resources
provide a basis for exercising political influence upon inexperienced and often ideological-
ly confused bureaucratic elites. He adds that the simultaneous attraction at the civil (and
military) elite level of bourgeois amenities (e.g. the disdain for manual labour) make it
difficult for the new "socialists" to serve as an inspirational model for mass mobilization.
For these bourgeois consumerist and petty investment opportunities facilitate the use of
residual or imported economic resources to corrupt regimes at all levels. At the same
time the upper classes subvert the political programmes by curtailing economic invest-
ments, smuggling, organizing the flight of capital or negotiating for policy moderation as
the price of new investments.
Despite the effectiveness of similar strategies designed to render impotent the impact
of the Jamaican democratic socialist regime regarded as "radical" and even Communist-
oriented, the government of the day yielded to the Loyal Opposition's call for an early
general election and, even more important, for a bipartisan electoral commission that
would restore credibility and legitimacy to the highly suspected electoral system and the
ailing governmental process. G.E. Mills describes the resulting phenomenon from the
horse's mouth as it were. For he was (and continues to be) the Chairman of the Electoral
Advisory Committee bipartisan in composition with a politically independent chairman as
well as members and charged with the responsibility for the conduct of the general
election of October, 1980. That election was admittedly "the focus of considerable
international attention" with emphasis primarily on the struggle between the contending
parties and "the divergent forecasts [by opinion pollsters based at the University of the
West Indies] of the likely outcome". Professor Mills's essay Electoral Reform in Jamaica
with special reference to the 1980 election is a welcome reminder of the fact that behind
the intense political polarization and the unprecedented hostility bordering on tribal
warfare, if not civil war, the political will to establish a credible institutional framework
for the guarantee of free and fair elections existed and was given practical expression in
the setting up of a bipartisan committee. This is significant against the background of
post-colonial experience in electoral practices in the Third World. Rather than falling
back on his own extraordinary advantage which a Prime Minister in the Westminister
model of government possesses for deciding the time and timing of a general election, the
Jamaican Prime Minister, Professor Mills records, was willing to be guided by the pro-
fessional advice of that bipartisan committee as to the appropriate time to call a general
election. So despite speculation about the proffered option of a 'military solution', the
Anglo-Saxon prejudice for compromise, constitutionalism and 'government by commit-
tee' held sway over the brutally spirited and ruthless electoral campaigning. The actual
day of polling was peaceful and political violence abruptly ended with the outcome of
the elections which gave to the Jamaica Labour Party a massive landslide victory over
the Government party. The lesson learnt, inter alia, was (as Professor Mills concludes)
that "a bipartisan group, associated with independent members, can co-operate in con-
ducting effectively, an exercise of such sensitivity in an extremely polarized environ-
But there are other lessons of Caribbean-wide implication from the electoral behaviour
of the citizenry whose political consciousness has been raised by the febrile activity of the
past four decades. Mr Fergus describes the electoral behaviour in the tiny colony of
Montserrat as enigmatic, schizophrenic and unpredictable in the almost total switch by
the electorates from one set of contenders for political power to another in recent elec-
tions. But such a description answers less to the charge of caprice, opportunism and
political immaturity and more to the vulnerability of all political contenders of what-
ever ideological persuasion or class pedigree to electoral "revolt" once they fail to deliver
to the aspiring masses the fruits of those sumptuous promises made in the heat of politi-
The poems by Ronald Fagan capture the mood of political polarization over the past
decade while the reviews of Aggrey Brown's Color, Class and Politics in Jamaica and of
David Nicholls's From Dessalines to Duvalier help put into perspective the enduring
social forces that have helped to determine the parameters of political concern through-
out the modern history of the Caribbean.
PUBLIC OPINION AND THE 1980 ELECTIONS IN JAMAICA
The victory earned by the Jamaica Labour Party in the October 1980 Jamaican
parliamentary elections was in some respects an unprecedented election result. The 58.8%
of the national popular vote earned by the JLP was the largest popular vote recorded in
Jamaican parliamentary elections. It was also by far the largest JLP popular vote in
parliamentary elections as the highest previous JLP vote was 50.7% in the 1967 elections.
The 1980 JLP victory was, in addition, the first parliamentary election in which a political
party won a majority of votes in all of the 14 parishes.
The 1980 elections represent a continuation of a trend (evident since the People's
National Party election victory in 1972) whereby the country has been moving more and
more towards greater uniformity in regional and parish vote-patterns. In elections held in
the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s certain parishes tended to give majorities to one of the
political parties regardless of which party won at the national level. The PNP tended to
win consistently in St Ann, Manchester, Kingston, St Andrew, Westmoreland and St James
in that earlier period.1 Similarly, the JLP earned consistent majorities in St. Thomas and
Clarendon. Hanover and St Catherine tended to give big majorities to whichever party
won at the national level while Trelawny, St Mary, St Elizabeth and Portland represented
parishes which consistently produced small majorities for the winning party.
Since the 1972 elections this regional pattern of voting has been overturned. In 1972
the PNP won a majority in the traditional JLP Clarendon parish and in 1976 the PNP
again recorded a majority in the traditional JLP St Thomas parish. This trend fully
unfolded in 1980 with the JLP winning majorities in all the traditional PNP parishes as
can be seen from Table 1.
JLP Share of Parish Vote 1959-80
1959 1962 1967 1972 1976 1980
% % % % % %
Kingston 38 42 49 46 39 58
St Andrew 44 41 47 38 36 54
St Thomas 57 63 64 56 48 73
Portland 49 55 53 49 46 57
1959 1962 1967 1972 1976 1980
St Mary 47 54 49 47 42 51
St Ann 32 37 43 38 41 61
Trelawny 49 54 49 47 44 55
St James 40 52 49 36 42 61
Hanover 49 60 56 43 48 61
Westmoreland 39 48 46 40 42 58
St Elizabeth 29 48 52 42 48 61
Manchester 36 43 47 40 43 58
Clarendon 58 67 62 49 53 64
St Catherine 54 59 56 51 40 65
Prior to 1980 there was a clear difference in the overall strength of the two major
political parties, the JLP and the PNP. The left of centre People's National Party
established itself as the dominant of the two parties over the 1949 to 1976 period by
winning elections by much bigger popular margins, by commanding a greater regional
strength across the parishes that were loyal to a single party and by recording unbroken
majorities of the popular vote in most of the island's urban and big population centres.
As a consequence, the PNP popular vote fluctuated between 49% and 57% and the JLP
popular vote between 43% and 51%, although both parties alternated consistently in
power over two-term periods since 1944.
The significance of the 1980 JLP victory is that the JLP is no longer the minority
party and has now established a national strength that is on par with that of the PNP in
that party's periods of ascendancy. An alternative interpretation2 that remains to be
tested by the vote pattern of future elections is that the JLP emerged in 1980 as the
dominant of the two parties by reversing the earlier 1949 to 1976 trend. The JLP reversed
this earlier pattern by establishing large majorities for the first time in urban areas and in
parishes hitherto dominated by the PNP.
An important factor is the increasing uniformity of the national vote in Jamaican
elections. As the electorate has become more socially and politically conscious3 and as
the mass media and the national network of oral communication have brought many
national issues to the attention of both rural and urban communities, voting took place
more on national rather than on local issues. This increase in the impact of national issues
on voting has weakened the pull of partisan loyalty and has undermined traditional party
voting in many areas of the country. This trend has been aided by the increasing urbaniza-
tion of the population as a larger proportion of the electorate now lives in or close to big
What all of this points to is that the 1980 elections witnessed the most massive
defection of voters from one party to its main competitor ever recorded in Jamaican
parliamentary elections. The public opinion polls carried out by the author over the
period between the 1976 elections and the 1980 elections indicate that approximately
30% of the voters who supported the PNP in 1976 switched to the JLP in the October
1980 elections. As Table 2 establishes, the JLP was both a recipient of a massive swing in
the vote based on these defections as well as a substantial lead among persons voting for
the first time in 1980.
Breakdown of JLP and PNP voters (1980)+
Loyal party voters* 32.8 32.9
PNP to JLP defectors 14.1 ......
New voters 11.9 8.3
+based on estimates from the October 1980 opinion poll
carried out by the author.
*voters who voted for the same party in 1976 and 1980.
Whereas in the 1976 election4 victory the PNP's popular lead among the younger or
new voters made a larger contribution to its popular majority than the defections from
JLP to PNP, in the 1980 elections the reverse was the case in that defections from PNP
to JLP contributed more to the JLP majority than the JLP lead among new voters. In this
respect the JLP 1980 victory was like the 1972 PNP victory5 in which party defections
contributed twice as much to the popular lead as that contributed by the majority among
new voters. In 1980 defections contributed more than three times as much as the lead the
JLP had among younger new voters.
The actual swings or net changes in party strength between the 1976 and 1980
elections were the largest ever recorded in Jamaican parliamentary elections. The national
swing in the popular vote was 15.6% towards the JLP. Since 1949 the largest swings
recorded in Jamaican elections were 7% to the PNP in 1972 and 6% to the JLP in 1962.
As can be seen from Table 1 the largest regional parish swings were recorded in St
Thomas, St Catherine, St Ann, St James and Kingston.
In the light of these significant trends that were recorded in the October 1980 elec-
tions in Jamaica, this article will attempt to identify by a presentation of public opinion
data (gathered by the author over the 1976 to 1980 period) the important issues and
public opinion indicators which accounted for the vote in this critical electoral contest.
It is necessary, however, to first establish the election issues debated by the two
parties, the character of the campaign itself and the political tendencies represented and
articulated by the JLP and the PNP in the period leading up to the elections.
The People's National Party led by Michael Manley represented a coalition between
the social democratic left of centre tendencies and a small but visible and vocal Marxist-
Leninist one. As a centre-left party6 the PNP advocated a mixed economy with increasing
state control and state ownership. The party defended its record of efforts to improve the
lot of the majority of the working people by developing important areas of social reform
such as worker control of the large sugar plantations, worker participation in industry,
large scale distribution of land to small farmers on a leasehold basis, a wide variety of
social legislation including equal pay for women, a national minimum wage and workers'
rights against unfair dismissal.
The PNP severed ties with the International Monetary Fund prior to the election en the
ground that the conditions attached to IMF loans were imposing unreasonable hardships
on the Jamaican working people. The anti-IMF issue was used as a basis around which to
build a militant posture of anti-imperialism. The PNP defended its close government to
government relations with Communist Cuba and the close ties the party established with
the Communist Party of Cuba on the basis of this commitment to anti-imperialism. In
foreign policy the PNP articulated non-alignment mixed with a close relationship with
socialist, communist, anti-Western capitalist states and liberation movements and an
aggressive and high profile international stance advocating the cause of the New
International Economic Order.7
The severe'decline in living standards since the PNP came to power in 1972 and the
consistent pattern of negative growth in the national economy, shortages of basic food,
escalating unemployment and the continuing crisis in foreign exchange and mounting
national debt were all blamed by the PNP on the world economic recession, the massive
increases in oil prices and political and economic sabotage by agents of imperialism and
local capitalist cliques. The PNP rejected any suggestion that these deteriorating economic
conditions were due to mismanagement on its part and accused the opposition JLP,
groups of local capitalists, imperialists and reactionary forces (including the local daily
newspaper, The Daily Gleaner) of fomenting lies and propaganda against socialism and
progressive change by claiming that these developments were accountable to PNP mis-
Unemployment in 1980 stood at approximately 35% of the labour force. The purchas-
ing power of the working class had fallen by some 40% in the period since the 1976
PNP victory. For the five-year period leading up to 1980, the rate of increase in workers'
wages fell behind the rate of increase in the cost of living. Between the first half of the
1970s and the second five-year term of the PNP, labour militancy escalated as strikes
increased by 23% over that short period and unionisation spread to white collar, supervis-
ory and administrative workers on an unprecedented scale. Loan conditions imposed
by the IMF placed the trade unions in a strait jacket of tight wage restraints. In an
economy heavily dependent on basic food imports the impaired capacity to import due
to chronic shortages of foreign exchange resulted in persistent shortages of food and raw
materials. Hitherto buoyant sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, construction
and distribution declined in both employment levels and real output while traditional
exports such as sugar and banana also declined dramatically. Local capitalists intimidated
by the PNP's radical rhetoric exported capital, withheld investments and slowed down
the momentum of economic activity. School leavers saw no prospects of obtaining jobs.
A mood of desperation and hopelessness pervaded the society in the period leading up to
The JLP campaign centred on the same issues that it raised in the 1976 elections. It
accused the PNP of reckless mismanagement of the economy and of corruption, although
a Commission of Enquiry8 set up by the government had found no evidence to sub-
stantiate the corruption charge. The JLP attacked the PNP for flirting with Communism
and of selling out Jamaica's national interest to Cuba and local Communist allies. The
opposition party accused the PNP of deliberately establishing a climate of fear to de-
stabilise the private sector and thereby pave the way for a Communist take over. In
response to the PNP's posture of anti-imperialism the JLP advocated close ties with the
United States and Western capitalist interests. Whereas the PNP rejected the idea of
building the Jamaican economy around inflows of foreign investment, the JLP openly
advocated a strategy of seeking to attract foreign investment.
A verbal confrontation between the JLP and the Cuban Ambassador, Senor Estrada,
gave the JLP an opportunity to mount a massive and effective national campaign against
the Cuban presence in Jamaica which played on local chauvinism and fears of com-
munism. The JLP mounted two massive and successful demonstrations against the PNP
government's economic policies early in 1979 which had the effect of mobilising popular
discontent against the PNP. Two similar and equally successful mass protests were con-
ducted by the JLP in the third quarter of 1979 with equally successful results in terms of
The JLP courted the local capitalist class and the middle class who were both fearful
of communism and of the prospect that the deterioration of the Jamaican economy
would accelerate if the PNP were given a third term in office. Large inflows of campaign
funds came into the JLP's organisation from capitalist sources while large numbers of
middle-class activists and volunteer political workers strengthened the JLP's campaign
machinery islandwide. The PNP relied heavily on state funds to mount its campaign and
on a mix of ideologically committed supporters and those who were beneficiaries of state
employment in its large scale Special Employment Project.
The JLP projected itself as a party with the tools of public management which could
restore business confidence and economic buoyancy. It offered to move public policies
from a leftward drift back towards the political centre where moderate reforms would
replace leftist radicalism. The JLP portrayed socialism as leading to communism and the
loss of political freedoms if the PNP were returned to power. Manley was pictured by
JLP propaganda as a leader who had lost control of his party to Cubans and local
communists. Socialism in JLP eyes would lead inevitably to a total collapse of the
economy under the misguided directions of what was termed the "lunatic left." To
confirm its seriousness about the tasks of economic management the JLP published a
comprehensive manifesto setting out detailed plans and projections for economic
recovery. This manifesto was derisively contrasted by the JLP with the brief and in-
substantial PNP manifesto which merely set out the party's goals and objectives because
the PNP was relying heavily on its record to appeal to mass support.
The PNP portrayed the JLP and its leader, Edward Seaga, as lackeys of imperialists,
capitalists and reactionaries who threatened to turn back progressive, people-oriented
policies if elected to office. It accused the JLP leader of being a fascist, a man with no
real roots in the society, and a friend of racist reactionaries9 in the United States.
Both parties therefore centred much of their attacks on the top party leaders challenging
their national commitment and their loyalty to the nation. Manley was accused by the
JLP of betraying Jamaica to Cubans while Seaga was accused by the PNP of wishing to
sell out the national interest to imperialists. Both parties therefore approached the
election as if a victory for the opposing party would mean certain disaster and both gave
the impression that they were not prepared to reconcile themselves with the prospect of
defeat at the polls.
The intensity of the ideological debate which achieved a level even greater than the
ideological debate in the 1976 elections, the bitterness of the attacks on the two party
leaders, the artificial sense of the finality attached by both parties to the election out-
come as promising to resolve the ideological divisions in the society and the militant and
combative mood mobilised by both party campaign machinery produced the inevitable
result of unprecedented levels of violence in the campaign.
The atmosphere during the period leading up to the election was further charged with
intensity of feeling by the discovery by the Army High Command of an alleged coup
attempt. The PNP used this issue to plead that imperialists in collusion with the JLP were
bent on seizing power to undo socialist gains. Implicated in the coup attempt was the
leader of a minority party but there was no convincing or demonstrated evidence of any
JLP involvement. That fact did not deter the flow of PNP accusations of JLP complicity
in the alleged efforts to destabilise socialism with the aid of the Central Intelligence
Agency. Indeed, from platforms at two PNP mass meetings attended by the author PNP
spokesmen tried to create a mood of militancy and provoked anger by linking all
perceived enemies of the PNP with alleged efforts to kill the PNP leader and destabilise
the socialist government.
The atmosphere was even further charged with intensity by the development of a row
between the PNP and the security forces. The Police Federation accused the PNP govern-
ment of victimising non-PNP officers and of deliberately failing to equip the police
adequately to deal with the heavily armed political gunmen who were active in most
urban areas. Both the police and the rank and file soldiers were very apprehensive of the
PNP's Cuban connection and policemen in the island's capital city were convinced that
the PNP and the local communists were the main agents behind the inflow of high
powered weapons used by political gunmen to attack police stations and assassinate
policemen. The JLP took up the cause of the police and the security forces and the PNP
in retaliation accused the security forces of being anti-PNP, anti-socialist and of joining
up with fascist and imperialist enemies of socialism.
Large numbers of guns and high powered sub-machine weapons were widely
distributed to political gunmen in the period leading up to the elections. During the
calendar year 1980, 514 citizens were reported killed by gunmen in the news coverage of
the local newspaper, The Daily Gleaner. This compares with 93 killed in 1979, 119 in
1978 and 137 in 1977. The Daily Gleaner reported 152 politically motivated attacks
during the year, including 102 against the JLP and 50 against the PNP. During the
election month of October 47 such attacks were reported against the JLP and 28 against
the PNP. Most of the 514 killings by gunmen were politically motivated although rfany
of the newspaper reports made no clear political connection for lack of information.
The security forces killed 234 persons in 1980 compared to 141 in 1979, 167 in
1978 and 130 in 1977 according to Gleaner reports. There was also a significant increase
in the killings of members of the security forces. 42 such killings occurred in 1980
compared to 19 in 1979, 18 in 1978 and 22 in 1977 according to the Gleaner reports.
These reports are based on press releases from the Police Information Centre.
Violence was therefore a major issue in the election with the JLP accusing the PNP
and the communists as being mainly responsible while the PNP pointed the finger of
accusation at the JLP and unnamed imperialists, CIA connections, and reactionary forces
bent on stopping socialist advances.
The campaign was characterized by a high level of mass organisation by both parties.
Four mass meetings organised by the JLP and attended by the author had crowds which
he estimated to be in the region of 60,000 strong. Turnout at PNP meetings was less
consistent but at least one PNP meeting had an attendance of equivalent size. This pattern
of large scale mass-meeting mobilization reflected the intensity with which the two
groupings of party followers approached the election contest. Because of this high-
pitched mood at these meetings both sets of activists were equally confident of victory
as they both viewed each impressive open-air mass showing as a sign that victory was
going to be theirs. The author's own comparison of the turnout at both JLP and PNP
meetings in rural and urban areas suggested that the JLP meetings were on average 30% to
40% larger than the PNP meetings and that the JLP meetings tended to generate high
spirits of jubilation that anticipated victory at the polls while the PNP meetings generated
anger and hostility against enemies of the party while exuding equal confidence.
The PNP's position on communism was compromised by the active support given that
party by local communists and in particular the communist Workers' Party of Jamaica,
which is a pro-Moscow and pro-Cuban group with high visibility in the media. Also
throughout 1979 and early 1980 Cuban and Russian flags were openly displayed at
PNP meetings. Whereas the PNP denial of communist leanings was very credible in 1976
in a society where the majority of voters are anti-communist or non-communist, similar
PNP denials in 1980 were rendered problematic by these overt communist connections,
by the Estrada issue and by the visible and vocal campaigning for PNP candidates by the
The mass media played a major role in the campaign. The government-owned radio
and television station, the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation and the government-owned
Daily News newspaper projected a heavy leftist PNP line in news presentations and
commentary. On the other hand, the privately owned Daily Gleaner newspaper was
equally pro-JLP and anti-PNP in its commentary. The government-owned radio station,
Radio Jamaica, tended to hold the scales evenly between the parties in presenting news
although some of its commentary was slanted in favour of the PNP. The Gleaner and the
JBC station assumed especial importance in the campaign propaganda. The PNP defined
the Gleaner, its management and columnists, as agents of imperialism and collaborators
with the CIA. The pro-PNP lobby in the media which led the attack on the Gleaner
through the Press Association of Jamaica strongly advocated tight government controls
over the newspaper and a government take over of the paper to complete full government
ownership of the main organs of the mass media. The public opinion polls carried out by
the author were particularly singled out for attack over the period during which these
polls showed the JLP as being ahead of the PNP in popularity and mass appeal. The Press
Association sponsored visits by U S leftists who were used to provoke and spread anti-
Gleaner propaganda and propaganda against the Gleaner polls, neither of which had any
factual or evidenciary basis. The JBC newsroom and public affairs presentations were
controlled by journalists with strong PNP and communist WPJ sympathies and they
converted the station into an active instrument of the PNP campaign which carried
unbalanced and biased news that was far more partisan than anything else appearing in
the national media organs.
The intensity of the campaign is reflected in the following figures shown in Table 3
which outline the percentage of valid votes cast as a proportion of the electorate eligible
to vote in the parliamentary elections held in Jamaica under universal adult suffrage.
This computation ignores the number of voters registered to vote because of persistent
over-registration of voters over the years and calculates the turnout as a proportion of the
estimated population eligible to vote.
The October 1980 elections therefore witnessed the highest level of turnout in the
history of parliamentary elections in Jamaica. Voting in the election was encouraged by
the fact that the management of the electoral machinery was placed in the hands of an
independent Electoral Commission headed by a University Professor10 of Public
Administration and comprising a mixture of PNP, JLP and non-partisan members. The
new Electoral Commission administration succeeded in eliminating the ingrained pattern
of over-registration of voters that occurred in past elections under both JLP and PNP
Voter Turnout as a % of Population Eligible to Vote
by Virtue of Age
Opinion polls and the vote
Public opinion polls carried out by the author established a clear trend by which public
opinion shifted from the PNP after the 1976 election victory and drifted between 1978
and 1979 towards the build-up of a large JLP popular vote by the end of 1979.
These polls were conducted on the basis of national samples of the Jamaican electorate
varying in size mainly between 800 and 2,000 voters. As the election date came closer
sample size was increased to improve accuracy. The sampling methodology involves the
following basic steps.
1. The island's electorate is divided into approximately 1,000 contiguous groupings
of polling divisions with the polling divisions in each group showing a similar pattern
of past voting tendencies.
2. A sample usually ranging from 40 to 90 such groupings of polling division is chosen
as the basis for the voter interviews. The number of areas chosen varies according to
the sample size desired. Experience establishes that a minimum of 30 such areas
widely spread geographically is necessary for accurate opinion polling.
3. Systematic methods of area sample selection are used to fill the quota of areas
needed for the sample. An equal number of areas is allocated to each parish and the
selection process is repeated until a sample of areas emerges that matches very
closely the overall national vote in the previous elections when the record of votes
in those areas is aggregated.
4. The number of voters to be interviewed is allocated by parish according to the
proportions the respective parishes represent in the national electorate.
5. An exception is made of the Metropolitan Area of Kingston in that the number of
areas allocated is four times as many as the number of areas allocated equally to
the other parishes.
6. Interviewers are assigned to each area with overall quotas and quota controls to
ensure adequate age and sex representation by area.
7. In each survey the questionnaire includes a question enquiring as to how respon-
dents voted in the previous election. This recall vote is compared with the actual
party vote in the areas to ascertain the level and direction of field errors and biases
in the sample.
8. A minimum of 3 or 4 questions is used to ascertain party leanings so as to ensure
validity checks on the reported responses.
All political surveys carried out by the author tend to undercount mass support for
whichever party is in opposition. The size of those estimated errors can be determined by
correcting 1 the actual poll result with the estimated bias calculated by applying the
test outlined in 7 above.
Table 4 sets out the actual poll results and the corrected results over the period 1976
to 1980, as well as the actual vote in the 1976 and 1980 elections.
Poll Results and Corrected Results
Poll Results Corrected Results
PNP JLP Uncommitted PNP JLP Uncommitted
August 1976 37% 25% 38% 37% 29% 34%
October 1976 36% 32% 32% 36% 34% 30%
November 1976 48% 33% 19% 48% 37% 15%
November 1977 39% 36% 25% 39% 36% 25%
March 1978 33% 32% 35% 33% 32% 35%
June 1978 28% 30% 42% 28% 32% 40%
November 1978 29% 33% 38% 29% 33% 38%
March 1979 34% 34% 32% 34% 36% 30%
July 1979 37% 40% 23% 37% 40% 23%
December 1979 37% 47% 16% 37% 49% 14%
March 1980 32% 42% 26% 32% 46% 22%
May 1980 36% 49% 15% 36% 50% 14%
June 1980 35% 44% 21% 35% 46% 19%
September 1980 38% 44% 18% 38% 48% 14%
October 1980 37% 47% 16% 37% 50% 13%
Actual Vote in Elections
PNP JLP Non-Voters of Registered Voters
December 1976 48% 37% 15%
October 1980 35% 51% 14%
Because of the climate of fear of reprisals and fear of violence, in which the Jamaican
electorate operates, public opinion polling is plagued with problems of response errors in
the field which, added to normal sample error, can make results highly inaccurate. The
author was therefore forced to develop this technique of estimated response errors so as
to reduce the margin of error in polling predictions.
In 1976 our corrected poll results predicted the actual vote quite accurately. In the
1980 elections our corrected October and May results came very close to predicting the
precise vote-pattern including the level of non-voting. The extremely high level of violence
in the 1980 campaign increased the problems of obtaining accurate field results. Two
other polls13 which predicted PNP victories in the 1980 elections fell victims to these
field errors. Neither group of rival pollsters utilised any methods of estimating field
errors and both ended up with election predictions that were some 9% in error of the
actual vote on election day. Unfortunately, PNP spokesmen including the party's leader
and pro-PNP organs in the mass media (Daily News and JBC) used these erroneous poll
predictions to attempt to discredit the author's polls.
The polls carried by the author, therefore, provide an accurate guide to the pattern of
public opinion in the period leading up to the 1980 elections. These poll data will there-
fore be used to examine how the Jamaican electorate responded to the major issues the
Public opinion and the issues
The exercise of assessing public opinion responses to the campaign issues is especially
important as election analysts tend to impose their own meaning and interpretation on
vote-patterns which are often far removed from the actual issues which are of primary
concern to voters. The 1980 elections in Jamaica attracted extensive overseas attention14
which tended to see the election as a contest between the U.S.A. and Cuba because the
two parties are so sharply divided on foreign policy. This perspective grossly exaggerated
the role of foreign policy in the election. Secondly, both the JLP and the PNP place great
emphasis on their ideological differences. This again has the danger of inflating the role
of ideology as a factor influencing voter choice.
The approach adopted in this analysis is to allow the voters as interviewed in our polls
to speak for themselves as to which were the most important issues and to indicate their
reactions to a variety of contentious issues that arose in the period leading up to the
elections. In the September 1980 poll, voters were asked to indicate which was the most
important issue in the elections. Obviously, this way of posing the question narrows the
responses to the most important issue on voters' minds and excludes entirely other issues
that may have influenced their answers since voters do not react to only one issue in an
election contest. The responses, however, give some indication of what were the more
important areas in the campaign as seen by the voters themselves.
Table 5 sets out the responses indicating that economic issues were overwhelmingly
dominant in voters' minds as the central issues around which party choices were being
made. This perception was common to voters in both urban and rural areas. Political and
social disorder were ranked above ideology in importance in the urban areas while
ideology was ranked as more important than these issues in the rural areas.
Voter Identification of the Most Important Election Issue
cost of living
cost of living
5% party tribalism
aid to farmers
1% party tribalism
10% Total 9% Total
Given the fact that the deterioration of the economy favoured the opposition JLP, the
voters' perception of the dominance of the economic issues in the campaign was a clear
signal of the problems the governing PNP party was likely to face at the polls.
Voters were not entirely unmindful of,the efforts made by the PNP to improve the lot
of the Jamaican working people. In the December 1979 poll as to which were the best
policies of the PNP, housing policies came out on top in the Metropolitan Area followed
by the minimum wage while in the rural areas housing also emerged as the favourite,
followed by agriculture and the adult literacy programme. Only 29% of the voters in the
Metropolitan Area felt that the PNP had done nothing positive since 1976 while 23%
had similar views in other parishes.
When the December 1979 poll asked about mistakes made by the PNP since 1976 the
following were the major policies which attracted unfavorable public opinion response in
the Metropolitan Area and other parishes as shown in Table 6.
Voter Identification of Major Policy Errors
of PNP Government
high cost of living
mismanagement & waste
high cost of living
attacks on business
communist and leftist trends
D.K. Duncan's return as
criticisms of the U S
communist and leftist trends
5% attacks on business
criticisms of the U.S.
Green Bay & Massop killings 7% Green Bay and Massop killings 3%
escape of Dexter Rose 5% escape of Dexter Rose 4%
political violence 2% political violence 1%
Total 14% Total 8%
Although economic issues again predominate, ideology emerges as a close second in
the voters' identification of major PNP policy errors. Significantly, the ideological
criticism of the PNP was unfavourable to the evident leftist trends in the party.
Among those voters who supported the PNP in 1976 approximately one-third were
favourable to the leftist trend in the party while the remaining two-thirds tended to have
ideological opinions that were closer to the moderate ideological stance adopted by the
JLP. The PNP mass support was therefore split on ideological lines and the more moderate
and centrist PNP voters provided the source of the massive PNP to JLP defections that
occurred in the October elections.
The March 1980 poll revealed that 77% of the voters in the Kingston Metropolitan
Area and 75% of the voters in other parishes felt that their living standards had got worse
over the previous 12 months. The May 1980 poll asked voters to identify which of five
factors contributed to the economic hardships being experienced in the country. Many
identified more than one of the five factors, as is shown in Table 7. The PNP government
attracted the most blame for the economic hardships being experienced, although many
voters accepted the PNP position that the world economic conditions also contributed to
these hardships. A significant minority blamed the IMF while only a small proportion of
voters attached blame to either the private sector or the enemies of the government.
Voter Allocation of Blame for Economic Hardships
PNP government 60% of voters interviewed
world economy 51% "
IMF 27% "
private business 14% "
enemies of government 14% "
In the final analysis voters held the government they elected as ultimately accountable
for the harsh and adverse conditions which developed under its management while accept-
ing the fact that the world economic situation also contributed to these problems. Most
voters simply did not accept the excuses or extenuating circumstances pleaded by the
PNP for its failure to reverse these economic trends.
The PNP effort to make the anti-IMF stance of the party into a major election issue
failed to elicit significant mass response. The March 1980 poll found that only 25% of
the Metropolitan Area and 15% of the voters in other parishes were opposed to the IMF.
As Table 8 reveals quite clearly, large numbers of voters were quite unaware and
uninterested in the issue while more persons favoured continued IMF borrowing than
those who were opposed. The PNP, however, proceeded on its anti-IMF path programmed
by its leftist leaders and fully backed by the Communist WPJ in the hope that the IMF
issue could become a rallying point for a recovery of PNP support.
Voter Reactions to IMF Issue
Metropolitan Area Other Parishes
no knowledge or
interest in issue 34.2% 53.5%
In favour of more
IMF aid 40.4% 31.5%
opposed to more
IMF borrowing 25.4% 15.0%
In the foreign policy area the polls found that the climate of Jamaican public opinion
in 1980 was unfavourable to the positions being articulated by the PNP and its communist
allies, the WPJ. The June 1980 poll found that as many as 45% of the voters interviewed
felt that they had something to fear from the Cuban presence in the country while only
13% expressed a similar view about Americans. 60% of the voters interviewed in the
June 1980 poll expressed fears of communism and 43% supported the JLP view that the
PNP was heading towards communism. A similar poll question administered in November
1976 found that only 31% of the electorate felt at that time that the PNP was heading
towards communism and only 25% of the electorate was opposed to the Cuban presence
in Jamaica. Fear of Cubans and communism had significantly increased in the four
years since 1976. 52% of the voters interviewed in the December 1979 poll were of the
view that the Cuban Ambassador should have been sent home by the PNP government for
interfering with local Jamaican politics in his public attacks on the JLP and The Daily
Voters tended to blame the increased levels of political violence on the two major
parties rather than on the foreign agents (CIA and Cubans) which attracted most blame
in the PNP and JLP propaganda on political violence. The findings of the June 1980
poll set out in Table 9 confirm this pattern as well as the fact that the PNP was seen
as more responsible for political violence in 1980 than the JLP. The violence issue
therefore did not help the PNP in the elections in 1980.
Voters' Views on Responsibility for
PNP only 34%
JLP only 10%
both PNP & JLP 20%
While the PNP was getting into a row with the security forces the June 1980 poll found
that 79% of voters had confidence in the army and the police as defences against political
and criminal gunmen, while the October 1980 poll found that 75% of the voters were
supportive of the manner in which the security forces were attempting to control violence
and disorder. In the state of fear provoked by political and criminal violence in 1980
voters tended to adopt strong law and order positions. This placed them on the side of
the security forces in the campaign waged by the PNP to discredit the police and the
soldiers as sources of harassment of PNP supporters. activists and political leaders. Again,
the PNP misread the climate of public opinion.
A media survey carried out by the author in October 1980 revealed that only 5%
of rural voters regarded the JBC as the most reliable source of news while 37% rated the
mainly politically neutral RJR radio station as the most reliable news source. As is shown
in Table 10 the Gleaner emerged as the most credible of the media organs which were
adopting strong partisan positions. The impact of the pro-PNP and government-owned
media organs (JBC and Daily News) was therefore neutralised by the greater credibility
of the pro-JLP Daily Gleaner and the low credibility rating of these pro-PNP leftist
Voters' Views on the Mass Media
Most reliable media news source Least reliable media news source
Metropolitan Area Other parishes Metropolitan Area Other parishes
RJR radio 41% 37% 1% 1%
Daily Gleaner 25% 33% 23% 11%
JBC TV& Radio 14% 5% 27% 38%
Daily News 9% 6% 13% 8%
Metropolitan Area Other parishes
pro-JLP pro-PNP neutral pro-JLP pro-PNP neutral
JBC 0% 60% 21% 0% 77% 13%
RJR 13% 0% 68% 17% 3% 73%
Daily Gleaner 40% 8% 40% 75% 0% 17%
Daily News 0% 40% 41% 0% 48% 16%
Another important issue concerned the voters' appraisal of the top party leaders
represented in the choices between the JLP's Seaga and the PNP's Manley. The June 1980
poll found that 37% of the voters interviewed were convinced by the JLP accusation that
the PNP leader Manley had sold out the country's interests to Cubans. A smaller 25% of
the voters accepted the PNP accusation that the JLP's Seaga had joined up with forces
opposed to Jamaican black people. In both cases these views were embraced by hard-core
partisans in each party and were rejected by the majority of voters (56% in the case
of the JLP accusation against Manley and 68% in the case of the PNP accusation against
The December 1979 poll found that 37% of the electorate thought that Seaga was the
leader who understood the problems of the country best and how to solve them. A
smaller 32% had this favourable view of Manley. 16% expressed a similar view of the JLP's
number two leader, Hugh Shearer, a leading trade unionist like Manley. Manley emerged
as the most liked leader (32%) compared to 19% liking Shearer most and 18% liking
The JLP leader is less popular than the PNP leader, Manley, or his number two
leader, Shearer, although the voters view him as the man most able to restore recovery
to the Jamaican economy. Seaga quite significantly came out ahead of both Manley and
Shearer as the leader most trusted for telling the truth.
The JLP gained considerable voting strength from the fact that the party is blessed
with two leaders of national stature with complementing areas of mass appeal which
combine Seaga's technocratic managerial image with Shearer's populist union image. The
PNP suffered from the fact that Manley's popularity declined drastically between 1976
to 1980 and there were no other leaders of national stature to act as magnets attracting
party support from PNP voters who were inclined to defect in 1980. On the contrary,
the pre-eminence of unpopular leftist leaders (D.K. Duncan, Hugh Small, Dudley
Thompson) in the PNP aided the flight of moderate PNP voters to the JLP. Manley's
popularity rating dropped from 60% in 1976 to 32% in 1980 while a long list of moderate,
second rank leaders were either taking a back seat to the leftists or resigning from the
party and joining the outflow of migrants. In addition public disagreements between the
leftists and the moderates over IMF and other policies projected the PNP as a hopelessly
divided party in the eyes of many voters.
This analysis has served to demonstrate that economic factors were the primary cause
of the major changes in voting patterns recorded in the 1980 parliamentary elections in
Jamaica. These economic factors were complemented by ideological trends in national
public opinion that were adverse to the leftist drift of the democratic socialist PNP
governing party. Strong JLP leadership and tactical errors by the PNP in that party's
consistent misreading of the public opinion climate enabled the JLP to make maximum
mileage out of this situation to carve out a massive election victory.
The uniformity of the regional voting pattern and the effect of the first-past-the-post
electoral system gave 51 parliamentary seats to the JLP and 915 to the PNP in a manner
similar to the 47 PNP seats won in 1976 and the 13 seats won by the JLP.
Fears that the two-party system is about to disappear are quite unfounded. No political
party in Jamaica has ever won more than two successive election victories. That pattern is
unlikely to change in the future. The JLP was elected on a mandate charging the party
to restore and re-establish buoyancy to the Jamaican economy. Whatever successes are
attained in this effort, cumulative voter dissatisfaction will grow over the years as the
JLP will not be able to find solutions to the big problems of unemployment and the high
cost of living even if economic growth is restored.
Only 52% of the electorate regard themselves as loyal party supporters. This represv ts
a drop of some 8% among the body of loyal party voters in the electorate between 1972
and 1980. 8% regard themselves as weak party supporters and as much as 27% define
themselves as independent voters. The implication of this is that loyal party voting will
continue to be weak and the future elections are likely to see volatile and unstable voting
patterns similar to the trends initiated in the 1980 elections. Its basis lies in the severity
of the economic crisis facing the country and on the reality that neither the more
moderate JLP elected to power in October 1980 nor the left of centre PNP promoting
socialist reforms have it within their grasp to solve these problems that provoke revolts
within the electorate.
1. An analysis of this earlier regional voting trend is developed fully in Carl Stone, "Regional
party voting in Jamaica", Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, vol. 20, no. 4,
November 1978, pp. 393-420.
2. Evidence analysed in sections 4 and 5 of this paper seriously questions the validity of this
3. This increased level of political awareness is due in no small measure to the politicisation of the
society under the PNP regime over the 1974 to 1980 period. A detailed analysis of this process
of politicisation is developed in an article forthcoming in the Journal of Commonwealth and
Comparative Politics entitled "Democratisation and socialism in Jamaica 1972-1979" and
written by the author.
4. See Carl Stone, "The 1976 parliamentary election in Jamaica", The Journal of Commonwealth
and Comparative Politics, vol. xv, no. 3, November 1977, pp. 250-265.
5. See Carl Stone, Electoral behaviour and public opinion in Jamaica, Institute of Social and
Economic Research, 1974, Kingston.
6. A detailed analysis of the differences between the PNP and the JLP is developed in Carl Stone,
Democracy and clientelism in Jamaica, Transaction Books, New Brunswick, 1980.
7. The PNP leader Manley has, of course, been a leading international spokesman and advocate of
the New International Economic Order.
8. The Enquiry was undertaken by the Chief Justice but its findings were rejected by the JLP
9. This effort was ably assisted by leftist publications in the U.S., such as Covert International.
10. Under the chairmanship of Professor Gladstone Mills the Electoral Committee did an outstand-
ing job in attempting to remove fraud and corruption from the electoral machinery.
11. The correction is carried out by subtracting the margip of error from the uncommitted votes
and adding it to the vote preferences for the party against which the bias is found.
12. The author was successful in correctly predicting the last three parliamentary election results
in Jamaica (1972, 1976, and 1980).
13. The other polls referred to are the PNP poll carried out by Dr Paul Robertson who predicted
a large PNP seat and vote victory and the poll sponsored by the JBC-Daily News media which
predicted a PNP victory also. This latter poll was carried out by Dr Eddie Green, Acting
Director of the University of the West Indies' Institute of Social and Economic Research, Dr
Derek Gordon, a Sociologist in the UWI's Faculty of Social Sciences and Mr Wenty Bowen,
Publications Editor of the ISER's Social and Economic Studies Journal. The author took great
pains in lengthy newspaper commentary to caution both pollsters on the obvious errors in
14. A number of US publications such as Newsweek, US News and World Report and Time,
carried detailed accounts of the Jamaican election which projected such a perspective.
15. One of the seats won by the PNP is likely to be involved in a prolonged legal battle by the JLP
to get a re-run of the election.
ELECTORAL REFORM IN JAMAICA
The Jamaican general election of 30 October 1980 was the focus of considerable
international attention a focus centred primarily on the struggle between the two
major contending parties and divergent forecasts of the likely outcome. In the event,
following a record 86.7 per cent voter turnout,1 the opposition Jamaica Labour Party
(JLP) gained a landslide victory over the governing democratic socialist People's National
Party (PNP) which had itself won a second term overwhelmingly less than four years
However, a highly significant feature of the framework within which the election was
held has attracted scant attention outside of Jamaica: I refer to the new electoral system,
functioning under the direction of an independent bi-partisan committee, which under-
went its first major test.
The political context and background
The new constitution of 1944 which brought a modicum of semi-responsible govern-
ment to Jamaica also ushered universal adult suffrage into the electoral system.
Significantly, too, the general election of 1944 was the first fought on the basis of
organized political parties. Since that time, despite continuous efforts to improve the
electoral machinery and especially the enumeration-registration process, allegations of
fraud in the administration of the system have perennially been expressed in election
post-mortems usually by the losers.
Criticisms and strictures have been directed generally against breaches provided through
loopholes inherent in the system and abuses perpetrated by corrupt election officials.
These have focused more specifically on charges such as "bogus voting", that is, imperson-
ation (voting in a fictitious name, in the name of a deceased person, etc.), multiple voting
by an individual, the deliberate omission of qualified persons from the electoral list, the
"padding" of the list, and the stuffing of ballot boxes.
These irregularities and malpractices are not peculiar to Jamaica. Similar problems
obtain in a number of other countries both "developing" and "developed" including
Canada and the United States. However, as Ann Spackman has observed in a comprehen-
sive article on Electoral Administration in Jamaica. "widespread dissatisfaction with
the register (and other elements of the system) can lead to an erosion of faith in the
whole electoral process."' The level of dissatisfaction with the system is reflected to
some extent in the number and nature of petitions filed after each election.3 Of relevance,
too, is the fact that from time to time committees of the House of Representatives were
.set up to investigate malpractices following certain general or by-elections.4
The two-party schism
The Spackman article was written after the 1967 general election. Since then, the
problems have intensified with the entrenchment of the two-party system. It should be
noted that the two major parties have continuously alternated in office, virtually on a
two-term rota, since the introduction of party government more than 35 years ago.
In fact no third party has ever won a seat in general or by-elections nor has an independent
candidate won a seat since the 1949 election.
The entrenchment of the two-party system with its accompanying feature of intense
party competition has culminated, especially during the past decade, in a condition of
deep-seated cleavage and political polarization of the society.
Indeed, a virtual tribal situation exists, which affects almost all facets of life. The
acrimony between the "ins" who support the party of the day and the "outs" springs
primarily from a contest for control over the distribution of the scarce spoils of victory at
the polls. Charges and counter-charges are levelled continuously by one side or the other
(depending on which party happens to be in power at the time) alleging victimization in
the allocation of such spoils and the denial of government contracts, housing, and jobs
to non-supporters of the governing party.
A.W. Singham noted that these phenomena are characteristic of many small societies.
In such societies "where jobs are scarce politics are taken very seriously, and these relation-
ships seriously affect all other relationships in the community."6
In Jamaica the process of political polarization has grown apace following the recent
governing PNP's declaration in 1974, of its ideology of "democratic socialism." Political
partisanship has accentuated the schisms in a deeply divided society -divided even in
relation to personal relationships. In this highly charged atmosphere, individuals are
simplistically and often maliciously labelled politically and slotted into pigeon-holes and
partisan political perspectives colour many everyday judgments sometimes on the basis
of unfounded rumours.
"Individuals who hold public office have a high visibility quotient"; and in an environ-
ment of pervading suspicion where the credibility of public officials has reached its nadir,
it is difficult to identify for appointment to such positions, persons in whose integrity and
impartiality the public has full confidence. This problem exists especially in relation to
appointments to commissions enshrined in the constitution as independent bodies, such
as the Public Service (PSC) and Police Service Commissions.8
The problems were aggravated in the aftermath of the PNP Government's election
victory of December 1976, with the creation of a party "accreditation committee" to
screen and clear persons for selection to boards and committees. The public debate about
the relative merits of commitment to the party's goals as against skills and competence
as criteria for selection extended to the PSC and Police Service Commission. In the midst
of this controversy, the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Edward Seaga, emphasized his
party's strong views about the need for impartial commissions free of any partisan
political control or direction. The members of such commissions should, in their opinion,
be selected jointly by the Government and Opposition (or by the Governor-General when
there is failure to agree).9
Even more seriously, the deep intensity of feelings of rival party supporters and
fanatical partisan loyalties on the part of some have stimulated violent eruptions
sporadically, and particularly during election campaigns, since 1967. But the incidence of
political violence and murders assumed a new dimension and became a more persistent,
sustained, and highly significant element during the year preceding the general election
Yet, despite this catalogue of problems, the increasing level of politicization of the
society during the PNP's regime, and especially since 1974, has also had some positive
consequences. This fact, together with the process of political education, has contributed
towards the development of an "electorate which has become more politically conscious
and aware of both political and social issues";10 a situation which is reflected in the very
high voter turnout at recent general elections.l1
The economic context
The economic environment of the period 1974-80 also had a significant impact on
decisions relating to the electoral system. A combination of international and internal
factors led to a deterioration of the country's balance-of-payments position and
"culminated in the complete exhaustion of foreign reserves at the end of 1976."12
As a result, the Government entered into a support agreement with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) in July 1977, which was restructured in 1978 but eventually
terminated in 1979 following repeated failure by the country to meet performance
targets. At the end of 1979 and early in 1980, intensive discussions took place between
government representatives and IMF officials in efforts to devise a new agreement.
However, in the wake of controversy centring on the harsh terms required by the
IMF, the Government decided in March 1980, to discontinue the negotiations. This
decision had significant repercussions, imposing considerable pressure on those responsible
for the electoral system.
The pressure for reform
Against this background, Members from both sides of the House from time to time
expressed concern about flaws in the "entire electoral machinery and system."13
Dissatisfaction grew to unprecedented levels and reached a climax following the December
1976 general election. Two days after the election the defeated JLP leader raised with
the Prime Minister, Michael Manley, a number of fundamental issues relating to consti-
tutional and electoral reform, but the Government appeared to sidestep his representa-
tions.14 The JLP then embarked on a national campaign, mobilizing public support for
reform. At its annual conference in November 1977 the party decided that if electoral
reform to establish an impartial body to remove the conduct of elections from within the
influence of an elected Minister was not forthcoming, the JLP would not participate in
any further elections.15
Eventually, after protracted discussions between Government and Opposition com-
mencing in February 1978, and agreement on fundamental issues,16 a Special Joint Select
Committee on Constitutional and Electoral Reform was set up by Parliament in December
1978. Generally, the committee's deliberations proceeded smoothly with Members from
both sides displaying genuine efforts to achieve consensus on removing significant defects
from the electoral system. However, during the concluding stages serious conflict
threatened to abort a successful conclusion.
In a press statement, the Opposition charged that the Government was "reneging"
on decisions agreed between both parties in respect of the proposed method of appoint-
ment of the Chief Electoral Officer and of election officials, e.g. returning officers respon-
sible for each of the country's 60 constituencies. The JLP strongly opposed the proposal
for retention of the system of appointments by the Governor-General acting on the
advice of the PSC: this "would place the appointment of the Chief Electoral Officer
firmly in the hands of the PSC, which is packed up with known active supporters of the
PNP." Further, such an arrangement would continue to allow the Government to appoint
its "corrupt henchmen" as election officials and would be a "blueprint for bogus
These charges were refuted by the Minister responsible for electoral matters who
stated "categorically that the Government uncompromisingly rejects any statement or
assertions to the effect that we have doublecrossed the Opposition in our discussions on
the subject of electoral reform."18
With the eventual resolution of the areas of disagreement, two Bills amending the
Representation of the People Act were presented to Parliament and passed unanimously
in both Houses in August 1979.19
The new electoral machinery
The principal outcome of the joint select committee's deliberations was first, the
creation of a new statutory institution, the Electoral Advisory Committee which, with the
Director of Elections, would assume authority and responsibility for making preparations
for and conducting future general and local government elections and by-elections. The
committee would consist of four "nominated" members to be proposed equally by the
Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and three "selected" (independent)
members, one of whom would be Chairman.
It was envisaged that though the committee would serve as an advisory body to the
Director (whose statutory powers and functions were prescribed),20 normally the
Director would accept its advice. Indeed, the amending Act assigns a seat to the Director,
but without voting rights, and stipulates further that where the Director refuses to
follow any advice or recommendation of the committee, he shall report the matter to
Parliament within fourteen days of such refusal. The committee would be an interim
institution; to be replaced eventually by an electoral commission with provisions deeply
entrenched in the constitution.21
Secondly, the Director of Elections would be appointed by the Governor-General on
the recommendation of the committee; and election officials would be appointed and
subject to dismissal by the committee. Thus, all these posts, including that of Director,
would be removed from ministerial influence and would be independent of ministerial
control. Thirdly, a number of glaring weaknesses in the enumeration registration and
polling procedures were concurrently removed and additional safeguards provided via
amendments to the Act and relevant regulations.22
In presenting the Bill for establishment of the committee to the House, the then
Deputy Prime Minister, Mr P.J. Patterson, re-emphasized the objectives of the Government
of the time and of the PNP of ensuring
that the electoral system is as fair, as impartial, as beyond question as possible...It must
be seen and respected by the entire country to be fair and impartial...Our intention
was and remains to get into place in Jamaica an electoral system which removes the
political red herring which is constantly being thrown into the pond when people seek
to justify their own political reversal.23
During the Senate debate which followed, JLP Senator Bruce Golding summarized the
main objective of the proposed legislation thus:
What this Bill seeks to do is to remove the control of the electoral machinery, the right
to appoint officials, (and) the right to determine decisions within the whole range of
things that fall under the Electoral Office, once and for all out of the control of
politicians and placed under the control of a body...which is being set up in such a way
that is expected to be as impartial as any body could possibly be.
Following "this first giant step towards electoral reform"5 the new Electoral Com-
mittee was appointed, but some difficulty was encountered in choosing the selected
members. The statute provides for the selection of these members by majority decision
of the nominated members, but stipulates that in the event of their failure to complete
the recommendations within two weeks after their own appointment, the Governor-
General shall make the appointments after consultation with the Prime Minister and the
Leader of the Opposition. In fact, the Governor-General was obliged to exercise his
prerogative. This was not surprising given the context of political polarization and distrust
within the society.
The committee held its first meeting in early October 1979. Its composition is interest-
ing: of the four political nominees, one was secretary of the JLP, one was deputy secre-
tary of the PNP, one was a lawyer, and the fourth the group managing director of a public
enterprise organization.26 The independent members consisted of the Government's
Director of Legal Reform, the recently retired Auditor-General, and the University of the
West Indies Professor of Public Administration and Head of its Department of Govern-
ment, as Chairman.27
The committee recruited as Director of Elections and its eighth member and the chief
executive officer, a lawyer who had served as adviser to the joint select parliamentary
committee the parent of the new institution. His legal skills and special experience
were to prove invaluable during the preparations for and in the conduct of the election
The reform programme
The committee set a number of inter-related objectives which it considered essential
pre-requisites for a reformed electoral system to meet the primary criteria of a democratic
society. The objectives were enumerated in terms of ensuring the following:
1. that every citizen who is qualified to vote is allowed to exercise his/her right to do so
and to express his preference for a political representative freely and without impedi-
2. that no citizen who is not qualified to vote is allowed to do so;
3. that the "one person one vote" principle is preserved, and
4. that the outcome of all elections truly represents the will of the electorate.
These goals were set within the context of creating an electoral system which is fair,
impartial, honest, and efficient; in which loopholes are plugged to the greatest extent that
is humanly feasible. The committee was conscious of the necessity of developing an
electoral machinery which would command and fully justify public confidence. Moreover,
these characteristics should apply not only to the machinery but also to the quality and
behaviour of the personnel charged with administering the system.
If the suspicion and distrust which have characterized attitudes towards the adminis-
tration of recent elections were allowed to continue, there would be a real danger of the
development of total cynicism leading to grave consequences for Jamaican public life.28
Some of the measures introduced in 1979 to improve enumeration and polling-day
procedures provide more effective checks and controls, and greater recognition of and
facilities for the political parties. As regards the enumeration process, the improvements
include: provision of opportunities for party representatives to make objections to candi-
dates for appointment as enumerators; to receive advance notice in writing of the times
and places where enumeration will begin from day to day; to sign certificates of enumera-
tion, and inspect all enumeration documents.
The amendments provide also for: greater protection of the secrecy of the ballot; the
assignment of serial numbers to ballot boxes; the identification of ballot papers by con-
stituency name and polling division number; the provision of substitutes (with distinctive
features) in the event of loss or destruction of ballot papers, and an agent of each candi-
date to accompany the ballot boxes to the returning officers after the preliminary count
on polling day.29
The first major concerns of the committee then were to devise safeguards against two
significant and recurring sources of abuse, namely impersonation and multiple voting.
Elimination of the incidence of impersonation or its reduction to minimum levels would
require the provision of an effective means for identifying each qualified elector and his
appropriate polling division. The committee therefore decided that each elector should
be required to bear a photograph as an integral element of an identification card the
photographing to be carried out simultaneously with the house-to-house enumeration
process.30 This would form the nucleus of a proposed national registration system
agreed upon during the bi-partisan discussions of 1979.
To avoid multiple voting, the committee decided to use on polling day "integrity
equipment", a mechanism (involving ultra-violet light) designed to detect within a 48-
hour period, the presence of electoral ink on the fingers (even when scrubbed) of a person
presenting himself at the polling station. Implementation of the first decision was aborted
when, following the Government's withdrawal from the IMF negotiations, the Leader of
the Opposition indicated in a letter to the committee's chairman31 that in the JLP's view
the events of the past few days have so altered the course of the nation that in the
interest of national stability and ultimately survival, mid-year general elections must
now become the most urgent national priority.
This view, supported immediately by the Prime Minister,32 was accompanied by sug-
gestions for the introduction of a modified arrangement, one which could be implemented
earlier than the proposed photograph-ID system but should nevertheless contain adequate
safeguards and ensure the production of a fair voters' list.
Earlier, in a radio and television broadcast on 3 February 1980, the Prime Minister
announced that in the light of the economic situation and the failure to agree to the IMF
terms, "Jamaica needs to settle the question of the economic strategy which is to be
pursued in the immediate future" and to "settle a clear line of unified national action."
Hence, "as soon as the Electoral Committee is able to advise me that an appropriate new
electoral system is in place, I shall call a new election."33
The proposals put to the committee by the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime
Minister would involve dispensing temporarily with the photograph-ID system. Their
implications were considered very carefully. The committee had to be convinced that it
could design a system which, though "second best", would provide reasonable safeguards
against irregularities and especially against impersonation. Concluding that this was
feasible the committee agreed, in the national interest, to introduce a modified system in
the short-term; but the important photograph-ID component would be held in abeyance
for revival later.
These conclusions were based primarily on the checks which would be provided by
the proposed certificate ol enumeration to be prescribed as a form of identification on
polling day and the elector's personal data which would be available to election
officials.34 These features would be supported by the use of the integrity equipment by
the new procedures for selection and appointment of returning officers and other election
officials (by the electoral committee after advertisement and interview),35 and the train-
ing and supervision of these officials. Moreover, restricting the number of electors at each
polling station to approximately 250 would facilitate identification by local election
officials and party agents, most of whom would be recruited from the same communities
as the electors.
Preparation for the general election
In approaching the enumeration exercise, the committee had to decide whether to up-
date the current list of electors prepared in 1976 or to embark on an entirely new
enumeration. Although the former would have been a less time-consuming process, the
committee concluded, primarily because of the significant number of omissions from
and improper inclusions in the 1976 lists, that there were overriding advantages in
conducting a fresh enumeration. This decision was strengthened by the disclosures and
the judge's findings in a recent election petition case.36
The field operations, involving house-to-house data collection, were completed in a
record six weeks and were most successful. A total of 990,500 persons (more than 90 per
cent of those eligible) were registered, in spite of violence and intimidation which pre-
vented enumerators and scrutineers (from one or the other political party) from entering
some areas, especially in certain parts of Kingston and neighboring parishes.37 The
incidence of violence in these areas, fanned by partisan loyalties, proved an almost
intractable problem not only during the enumeration period but throughout the months
leading up to polling day. This condition threatened to vitiate the objective of ensuring
free and fair elections and the co-operation of the Security Forces (police and military)
had to be enlisted in organizing arrangements for the protection of election officials and
electors. In the event, nomination day and polling day were relatively free of violence.
From the summer of 1980, anxiety began to build up in Jamaica and the atmosphere
was charged with public expectation and speculation concerning the likely date of the
general election. This attention was mainly focused on the committee in terms of the
state of readiness of the electoral machinery, in view of the Prime Minister's announce-
ment of 3 February.
Meanwhile, the committee and the Electoral Office were engaged under considerable
pressure, within a restricted time frame, to process the field data, complete the printing
of the electoral lists, recruit and train officials for service on polling day, and select polling
stations and counting centres in a context in which many persons were reluctant to
serve or to make their premises available. These represented significant components of a
complex chain which had to be ready for "Jamaica's most crucial election."
Performance of the system and the aftermath
In evaluating the performance of the new electoral system under the rigours of its first
major test, it seems to have come out well. A number of weaknesses appeared in personnel
and machinery, the most significant being: the need to replace the returning officers of
two constituencies on the eve of polling day, the dropping out of a number of presiding
officers and ballot box couriers on polling day (as a result some stations were late in
opening), and failure of some of the integrity lamps. The most serious incident occurred
in one constituency where ballot boxes and papers were tampered with after the
preliminary count; thus necessitating a magisterial recount.
However, given the circumstances in which the committee and the Electoral Office
were required to prepare for this election, the performance was generally creditable. The
restructuring of the system ab initio, the recruitment and training of tens of thousands of
personnel, an entirely new enumeration all were carried out in extremely difficult
conditions and during a protracted election campaign.40
Among the conclusions which can be drawn from this recent experience are: that
a bipartisan group, associated with independent members, can cooperate in conducting
effectively an exercise of such sensitivity in an extremely polarized environment: the
importance of a communications network for a project which involves extensive field
operations 41 and that the performance of a system, especially an electoral system in this
context, depends considerably on the calibre and behaviour of its field personnel.42
Another significant feature of the new Jamaican system is the opportunity provided
for the political parties to lodge objections to candidates for positions as returning
officers, enumerators etc., and to the proposed location of polling stations and counting
centres. These provisions, though valuable, were a source of delay in completing arrange-
ments for the enumeration and the election.
In recruiting these officials, efforts were made to emphasize criteria of competence,
integrity, and non-partisanship. While it was expected that a candidate would be sympa-
thetic to or support a particular party, the crucial issue centred on whether he was an
"activist"; or whether he could submerge these preferences and undertake the functions
impartially and honestly.
The Committee has conducted a detailed and comprehensive review of the system and
personnel in the light of their performance during the General Election and the Local
Government election held in March 1981.43 On the basis of this evaluation the services of
a number of election officials have been terminated; and efforts are being made to
eliminate weaknesses identified in the course of the review.
The stage is now set for the next phases of reform: introduction of the photograph/ID
system which has been held in abeyance (as indicated above), continuous updating of the
Electoral Lists, entrenchment of an Electoral Commission, and of an independent
Boundaries Commission. The Committee has set in train arrangements for a house-to-
house enumeration in 1983 which will incorporate the photograph/ID component.
Meanwhile, following agreement by the bi-partisan Committee of Parliament, the
Minister of the Public Service has appointed a Committee "to examine various aspects of
the proposed National Registration System which could form the basis of the relevant
legislation." The Committee includes the three selected members of the Electoral
Advisory Committee, with the Chairman of the latter body as Chairman. Given the
relationship between the two systems, this is a rational arrangement.
1. As percentages of registered electors.
2. Ann Spackman, "Electoral Law and Administration in Jamaica", Social and Economic Studies,
UWI, March 1969.
3. General Elections and No. of Petitions
1949 3 1967 12
1955 1 1972 1
1959 4 1976 13
4. For example, in 1949, 1956, and in 1959 a Select Committee to Investigate Electoral
5. See G.E. Mills, "The Environment of Commonwealth Caribbean Bureaucracies", International
Review of Administrative Sciences, 1973, No. 1.
6. A.W. Singham, "Legislative-Executive Relations in Smaller Territories", Burton Benedict (ed),
Problems of Smaller Territories, Athlone Press, 1967.
7. G.E. Mills, Politics, Administration and Change in Small Developing States: The Caribbean
8. Appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation
with the Leader of the Opposition.
9. Repeated in "Change without Chaos" (JLP's Election Manifesto), Daily Gleaner, 11 October
10. Carl Stone, "Public Opinion and the 1980 Elections in Jamaica", Caribbean Quarterly, UWI
11. Votes Cast as Percentage of Registered Electors
1959 66 1972 78.9.
1962 72.9 1976 85.2
12. See N. Girvan et al, "The IMF and the Third World: The Case of Jamaica, 1974-80",
Development Dialogue, 1980: 2.
13. For example, Mr M. Manley. Proceedings of the House of Representatives. Hansard, 4 June
14. The Prime Minister responded that the people had voted overwhelmingly against these proposals
in December 1976.
15. Recounted by Mr Seaga during debate in the House of Representatives, Hansard, 8 August
1979. Tile JLP boycotted a by-election in 1978.
16. See Ministry Paper No. 50 presented to House of Representatives, 11 December 1978.
17. Daily Gleaner, 11 July 1979. See also speech by Senator Golding, Proceedings of the Senate,
Hansard, 17 August 1979.
18. Hansard, 10 July 1979.
19. The Representation of the People (Interim Electoral Reform) Act and the Representation of
the People (Amendment) Act, 1979.
20. The Director assumed the powers of the Iormer Chief Flectoral Officer under Cap. 342.
21. Sec. 49(3) indicates the strict provisions lor amending entrenched clauses.
22. Law 21 ol 1979.
23. Hansard (House of Representatives), 8 August 1979.
24. Hansard (Senate), 17 August 1979.
25. Mr E. Seaga in House of Representatives, Hansard, 8 August 1979.
26. All four are members of their respective party executive committees. Coincidentally, t\\o on
opposite sides, are graduates of the University's Department of Government.
27. A former Chairman of the Public Service Commission.
28. See Spackman, op. cit.
29. Fach party having five or more Members in the House, is entitled to appoint one person as
scrutineer for each polling division.
30. Note the late Sir W.A. Bustamante's statement: "We will never have an honest election until we
have the photographs of the people." (Hansard, 28 March 1956). An experiment of photo-
graphing in "prescribed" (mainly urban) areas was tried in the 196Us. but abandoned later.
31. Also published in Daily Gleaner, 27 March 1980.
32. Letter to the Chairman dated 27 March; published in the Daily Gleaner, 28 March 1980.
33. Reiterated in a letter to the chairman of the committee. During this period there was a series of
letters between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and the chairman.
34. Where the certificate was mislaid, the elector would be required to answer certain questions
35. Recruitment and appointment have been removed from ministerial influence.
36. Election Petition: Buck vs King & Campbell.
37. It needs to be emphasized that this was not a general condition throughout Jamaica.
38. The Prime Minister announced the date of the election dramatically at a mass rally (widely
broadcast), calling attention to the chairman as having advised him that the machinery was
39. Careful checking of multiple appearances of the same name revealed a number of multiple
registrations which had to be reduced to single registrations where they did not represent
40. The campaign lasted for about nine months.
41. An intensive and extensive public-education campaign was mounted by the committee and
supported by the press.
42. This point was emphasized in many public addresses by the chairman during the preparatory
43. Scheduled for March, 1981.
ELECTORAL BEHAVIOUR IN MONTSERRAT
HOWARD A. FERGUS
In the November 1978 general elections in Montserrat, the Government of Austin
Bramble's Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) was plucked from power, root and branch,
and replaced by the People's Liberation Movement (PLM) led by John A. Osborne. The
latter owns a number of ships and is a reputed millionaire. The PLM won six of the island's
seven seats, with an equality of votes in the seventh. The seventh seat naturally went to
the PLM since the Constitution of the island permits the Legislative Council to meet
and resolve such a tie.1
In their total rejection of the incumbent party the Montserrat electorate re-enacted
history. Austin Bramble's PDP had swept the polls when he gained power eight years
previously; and his father whom he ousted, had in 1952 captured all of the island's
four seats when his Montserrat Labour Party (MLP) won the merchant-planter oligarchy,
to form the first popular government.
When in 1973 Bramble called a snap election ostensibly to seek a mandate to combat
racism-an issue which was hardly aired in the campaign-he won six of the seven seats of
the Legislature. The seventh went to incumbent candidate, John Osborne who had won
it in 1970 on Bramble's party ticket.
This article explores and analyses this extremist trend of the Montserrat electorate. It
also examines the enigmatic alignments which have emerged in party politics in Mont-
serrat and the way both phenomena combine to give what is emerging as a characteristic
unpredictability, if not schizophrenia to political behaviour in the 39.5 square mile
Electoral Practice and Political Alignments
The 1952 Election Results
Constituencies Montserrat Labour Party Merchant-Planters2
Wouthern B.W. Edwards 665 II.S. Mercer 201
Plymouth R.W. Griffith 816 W.L. Wall 335
Northern E.T. Edgecombe 284 J. Edgecombe 115
Windward W.H. Bramble 268 R.E.D. Osborne 245
Central M.E. Walkinshaw (Unopposed)
Source: The Observer, February 23, 1952.
The 1970 Election Results
Mary R. Tuitt
Source File: General Elections, Government House, Montserrat.
The 1973 Election Results
J.S. Dublin 106 T.E. Meade
Source Montserrat Mirror, September, 1973.
The 1978 Election Results
420 F. Margetson
244 R. Samuel
Northern J.D.C. Allen 43 J.B. Chalmers 256 M. Bramble 29
A.A. Joseph 94
J. Weekes 8
North-western D.C. Fenton 102 J.A. Osborne 439
Windward R.G. Joseph 222 T.E. Meade 398
Central E.A. Dyer 245 J.S. Dublin 429
Eastern W.H. Ryan 166 N. Tuitt 255
Source -File: The 1978 General Elections, Council Chamber, Montserrat.
The saga begins with W.H. Bramble (Bramble senior) the most prominent leader of
the working-class movement which started in Montserrat in 1946, a decade after the
catalytic riots in nearby St Kitts. Operating from a trade and labour union base, Bramble
wrested power from the merchant-planters, the heirs of the old plantocracy and the new
agents of post-emancipation colonialism. The winning of all the seats may have been
without parallel, but the rest was ordinary enough; for several Labour Parties had already
gained power in the Anglophone Caribbean.
Whal was extraordinary, was the overthrow of W.H. Bramble by his eldest son and
supposed heir in 1970. He was then Minister of Social Services and a member of his
father's Cabinet (Executive Council). (It might be noted that a member of Bramble's
Montserrat Labour Party, E.T. Edgecombe, had opposed and defeated his brother,
J.W. Edgecombe, in 1952). Young Bramble won all seven seats and banished his father
to the proverbial political wilderness. This happened when Bramble seemed at the zenith
of power and could make some justifiable claims to a successful regime. Ile had begun the
protracted task of translating the legal freedom conceded by the British in 1838 into some
semblance of socio-economic reality for the masses: he had mitigated the inequity of
metayage and later terminated it, lie had outlawed arbitrary and vindictive tenant
evictions by over-mighty landlords: and had secured for the common man who comprised
over 90 per cent of the population, a voice in the citadel of political power-a voice
albeit subdued by powerful economic forces and interests and by the constraining clauses
of a colonial constitution.
Butl ramble may have served his turn. At any rate, he appeared to his son and under-
study to be making political blunders grave enough to outweigh familial considerations
and warrant the declaration of an intestine political war. Young Bramble accused his
father of being autocratic, though lie blamed this partly on the supineness of his yes-men
Cabinet colleagues: lie also criticized his father for alienating agricultural land in his
policy of accommodating 'resident' tourists from North America.
In Jolm Osbol ie his 1978 arch-enemy, Austin Bramble found a willing and financially
able political ally inI 1970. Although young Bramble's faction included a one-time primary
school Iead ea acher in Mary Tutilt, tle capabilities of his followers were lar from
impressive. Even il they were ino all yes-rmen. many o1 their no's were uninformed.
Ironically, therefore, young Bramble's political enemies criticized him for absolutist
tendencies,4 thereby repeating Bramble's own charge against his father. In the 1970
campaign, senior Bramble had advised the electorate, with either worldly wisdom or
prophetic insight, that "a chip off the old block is still the same block"-a quote used to
his disadvantage by young Bramble's political opponents.
Like the father, the son fell from power at a point where his claims to a successful
regime seemed tenable: his social services and welfare programme-free drugs and medical
attention for the aged, a school feeding programme, a milk dole for infalt s--were bene-
fitting the masses: he had contained the inflation fueled by the petroleum pi ces within
tolerable limits; engineered the take-off stage of industrialization, and had earned some
respect within the Caribbean Economic Community (CARICOM), as an LDC (Lesser
Developed Countries) statesman. True, export agriculture had declined and his trade
union policy incomprehensibly dated.5 But on balance, he had to an appreciable extent
enhanced the general welfare. In fact, his policies may have been more directed towards
the masses and in mass participation in development than were his father's. The latter had
settled for traditional methods of wooing foreign investment; he aided and abetted a
traffic in real estate which not only carved up prime agricultural land, but bade fair to
creating a wealthy North-American ghetto in a black, insolvent colony. In so doing,
W.H. Bramble raised both the standard and cost of living and may also have invested in
serious social problems.
It would seem easier to rationalize the father's fall than that of the son. The mass
exodus of agricultural workers to the United Kingdom in 1960s robbed the island of the
direct beneficiaries of senior Bramble's earlier work. Consequently, his appeal to the
masses became less stirring. In denouncing his father's weaknesses as he perceived them,
Austin Bramble's voice had a sincere ring. With his better formal education, he had a more
sympathetic ear for the younger generation. At the same time he was preserving both
the working-class leadership and the Bramble "dynasty." William Bramble himself lost his
seat to a youngster of about thirty years old.
Academic, trade union leader, and political agitator George Irish, in a comment on
Austin Bramble's defeat, attributed it to the coalition between his own Monlserrat
Allied Workers Union (MAWU) and John Osborne's PLM. lie also asserted that the
workers joined forces with the distressed merchants (my emphasis), and disenchanted
civil servants to oust the younger Bramble.6 Irish's comment complicates rather than
elucidates the issues. His own alliance with the PLM is at least surprising and not because
he once had a cordial relationship with Austin Bramble. That had obviously turned sour
if not bitter. (In a micro island "personal antagonisms can poison public affairs") But
because Irish the professed champion of the workers was supporting a bourgeois-backed
party. In addition, the economic forces and interests behind the PLM were the direct
socio-economic, and in some cases, blood descendants of the merchant-planter clique
whom W.II. Bramble had originally defeated. (Significantly W.H. Bramble entered the
legislature in 1952 by defeating merchant-planter R.E.D. Osborne. In 1978 John
Osborne, a relative of the latter, led his party to victory against P. Austin Bramble,
son of the former). The alliance of the working classes with the middle and upper
classes against Austin Bramble seemed as unlikely as Irish's own entente with the stal-
warts of the PLM.8
Irish's political behaviour is consonant with the unpredictable and enigmatic
manoeuvres which characterise Montserrat politics. It belongs to that same political
milieu in which a son opposes a father, and brothers run against each other. D.C. Fenton
runs against Austin Bramble's Party in 1970 and 1973 and then runs with him in 1978.
Richard G. Joseph campaigns on a W.H. Bramble party ticket and loses in 1970, turns to
Austin Bramble's Party in 1973, and wins in the same constituency. Irish's campaign
rhetoric was directed against the Brambles, but his ideological position is congruent with
their socio-political philosophy and inconsonant with the PLM platform.9
In the examination of electoral behaviour and political alignments in Montserrat,
certain clear features emerge: electoral mandates are total and unequivocal; this has
tended to give the island a one-party legislature; defection from parties and the switching
of party allegiance are not uncommon; intra-familial party opposition has surfaced at
least wice. What is not clear is the explanation for this situation.
In Search of a Rationale
It is indeed difficult to find a rationale for the seeming irrationality of the political
behaviour patterns revealed by this paper. One is superficially tempted to conclude that
the behaviour of the electorate is dictated by caprice and emotionalism while that of the
political protagonists is dictated by opportunism. But the coziness of such a conclusion
prompts a suspicion of over-simplicity.
The defeat of the merchant-planter oligarchy in 1952 is understandable. It was fitting
for the proletariat to celebrate and appropriate universal adult suffrage by ousting the
old monopolists from power. Other Labour Parties had attained power in the neighbour-
ing islands. In a society in which occupation was dominated by estate labour, the word
"Labour" had an emotional appeal. (When Montserratians emigrated to Britain, they
automatically voted for the British Labour Party). On Bramble's tongue, the word
"labour" took on a liberating tone of tremendous impact. This explanation is however
inapplicable to the other electoral see-saws and political musical chairs which have
In ad hoc interviews and informal discussion with Montserratians on this subject, two
explanations have been advanced. One view is that because of the size of the island and
the smallness of the electorate, the people respond as if they were but one constituency.
(In 1952 the number of registered voters were 2,600; 5.030 in 1970 and 5.679 in 1978).
Proponents of this view argue that there is little or no divergence in the needs and
aspirations of the voters. The people of the "one-constituency" island respond therefore
with a unanimous voice. This submission has merit, but ignores the fact that the Northern
Electoral District has always returned Independents except in the years of total mandate;
that the present Chief Minister Osborne retained his seat as an Independent after his
defection from Austin Bramble's PDP. and that there are distinct cultural, ethnic and'
economic differences between the people of the far north of the island and the far east,
island size notwithstanding. The size of the island cannot, however, be totally discounted
as a partial explanation for political behaviour in Montserrat.
The other explanation and one that is widely subscribed to, is that Montserratians
vote for the party rather than for the personality. Again, this ignores the tendency in the
Northern Electoral District to vote Independent and John Osbornf's monopoly of the
North-western seat. Moreover, to argue that Montserratians vote for the party is to
endow party organization with a pretentiousness and sophistication to which they cannot
justifiably lay claim. Political parties in Montserrat are loose ephemeral organizations
formed for contesting a specific election. There are no ancillary bodies, or area branches,
and no central party executive. The first Labour Party of W.H. Bramble may have been
somewhat different because it had its foundation in the Trade Union Movement. The
manifesto of the ruling People's Liberation Movement claims to be a party of "the
agricultural and domestic workers, the fishermen, the mechanics and taximen. the small
farmers, the small shopkeepers and the professional and businessmen." 10 If this is so, it is
an ad hoc and uncoordinated assemblage without any unifying principles. D.P.J. Wood
makes a similar point in his discussion of the political consequences of smallness:
"instead of parties based on intellectual convictions or class, factions may spring up which
are only kept loosely together by various personal bonds." The PLM is a Party which at
once embraces the radical platforms of a George Irish (in Montserrat terms at least)1 and
the traditional middle-to-upper class conservatives of Montserrat. Worker participation in
management and free enterprise are unusual, if not strange bedfellows: the former is
demanded by Irish and the latter tooted by the PLM bosses 12 who are apparently sup-
ported by the powerful Montserrat Chamber of Commerce.13 The PLM as constituted
therefore, does not promise permanence, consistency or tight organization. The ease with
which candidates change sides is further evidence of the fluid nature of parties in
Neither the "one-constituency" argument nor the "party basis" argument offers an
adequate rationale for the extremist electoral responses of the Montserrat voters. While
the size of the island is a contributing factor, it is not an adequate explanation. The
answer in our view lies mostly in the fact that all the ruling parties which have so far
emerged have been one-man parties. This also serves to explain the ease with which party
members change sides as opportunity dictates for both the party and the individuals.
Both patterns of behaviour are part and parcel of the sample political phenomenon.
Before advancing this argument, it is useful to summarize the history of the party
dominants. In 1952, W.H. Bramble was the dominant. With a messianic accent, he called
on the people of the east to "arise and throw off the yoke which binds you to Wade
plantations." 14 The first leader of the working classes was really R.W. Griffith who won a
seat in the legislature as early as 1943. He accomplished little in a parliament dominated
by planters and merchants, but became part founder and leader of the Montserrat Trades
and Labour Union. By the mid-nineteen fifties, he had lost the initiative to Bramble's
more radical leadership. In 1970, Austin Bramble's leadership potentials and aspirations
could not be accommodated within his father's "one-man" party, so he broke away to
form his own. About a year later, John Osborne and John Dublin, themselves ambitious
for leadership, abandoned Austin Bramble and later formed their own party.
Osborne and Dublin's first attempt to form a party was for the 1973 snap election. It
was never quite clear who was to be leader, but by election eve the party, The Montserrat
Action Party (MAP), had disintegrated leaving Dublin as both leader and member. His loss
of the election led to the demise of this one-man party. An interesting feature of this
election was the number of independents (seven) who participated and their obvious
inability to combine into one strong Opposition faction. By 1978, the leadership problem
was settled and John Osborne emerged as the party dominant and ultimately the new
Dates Politician-Kings Party
1943 195215 R.W. Griffith "The Book of Life"
1952 1970 W.H. Bramble Montserrat Labour Party
1970 1978 P.A. Bramble Progressive Democratic Party
1978 J.A. Osborne People's Liberation Movement
The Montserrat electorate has always looked to a patriarchal figure. In changing
governments, they are really changing one father figure for another. It may be a
psychological relic of the dependence bred by the slave system and perpetuated by the
post-emancipation landlordism. The new estate owners affectionately titled "Marse" (the
etymological connection with "master" is readily apparent), succeeded the slave owner or
his attorney as guardian "provider" and disciplinarian. With the advent of universal adult
suffrage, a crucial landmark in the process of liberation, the politician-king became the
new boss and mentor with an added role of saviour.
Austin Bramble's 1970 attack was aimed essentially at his father and not his Labour
Party. The other members of government were yes-men and vote catchers. In response,
the people voted for Austin and not so much for his father. They identified themselves
with the new messiah. Similarly, the political arsenal of John Osborne's group was
reserved for Austin Bramble. When his party members were mentioned, their non-
parlicipalion and the "silence" in the Council was referred to. And although the PLM is
promising "leam work where there was one-man rule"16: i is the voice of John Osborne
which slirs the people. Symbolically, he rode with an election victory float, taking the x
position normally reserved for a calypso king or a carnival queen. lie has become the
The political immaturity of the populace helps to perpetuate the practice of voting for
a father figure. The masses respond at an emotional level; there is no real assessment of
platforms, abilities and achievements. Comments such as the following were common
prior to the 1978 elections: "the Brambles were there long enough: let someone else
get some of the money"; "Osborne can't do any worse"; "time for a change." The state-
ments evince an illogicality and a marked puerility. It is true that the sacrosantity which
hedges the politician-king has diminished considerably since W.H. Bramble and neither
his son nor the present leader possesses his kind of charisma. For this reason, the new
leaders may have shorter reigns, but their patriarchal stature is unmistakable.
The choice of the politician-king is aided by an established dominant mood. The
people read the climate and wait to be swayed by it. The size of the island facilitates the
establishment of such a mood as well as unified action. In rejecting the man, they
automatically reject the party, for the man is the party. This, in our view, explains
Austin Bramble's fall and his father's before him.
It is not readily discernible whether these trends in political behaviour will persist.
Certain reasonable prognostications can however be made. John Osborne is the undoubted
leader, but he is not a collossus, except in wealth. In Dublin and Margetson, he is flanked
by two men with some ability which at least equals his own. Because this troika needs
each other, an internal challenge for leadership is not likely. George Irish's appearance on
the PLM platform also has implications for the political contours of the future. lie
appeared after a definite pro-PLM mood had been established, but crowds warmed to his
impassioned rhetoric and his criticisms of the Brambles. He did not win the election, but
ensured the decisiveness of a PLM victory. More importantly, he registered his claim as a
possible successor or alternative to John Osborne.
If new alignments and polarisations are to emerge Osborne and Irish may be the natural
leaders. The potential for strains which are inherent in the Irish-PLM pact has already
been remarked on. Where Osborne offers his personal achievements and a pedestrian
attachment to free enterprise, the university-fostered agitator is after radical social
changes. Irish has the ear of some of the masses and so too does Osborne. The latter,
sometimes a merchant, has the support of the Chamber of Commerce and a large section
of the middle and upper classes the group who are opposed to some of Irish's schemes.
Against such a team, Irish will need assistance. It is possible, however, for Osborne and
Irish to strike an operational compromise. (The power of Osborne's wealth and connec-
tions cannot be discounted). Even so, Austin Bramble, young, vigorous and intelligent,
cannot be written off. Much will depend on how successfully the PLM governs the
country. At any rate, to stage a return, Bramble will need not only programmes and
policies, but personalities to champion the causes. The day of the one-man government
may be over.
The fall of the Brambles seems to mark the end of an age. It may have brought lie
curtain down on the solo rule of the politician-king and opened the way for members of
the intelligentsia to enter the political arena. Hopefully, this will create a more enlightened
political climate in which the electorate will mature. Thus, the way will be paved for a
genuine two-party system to emerge and with it some rationality and stability in
electoral behaviour and party alignments.
If these developments fail to take place, it were time that Montserrat drop the preten-
tious attempts to work a two-party system along the lines of Westminster. It could then
devise a simpler form of government more suited to its size, the temperament of its
people and the slimness of its public purse.
1. Government of Montserrat, Montserrat Constitution and Elections Ordinance.
2. The merchant and planters did not form a formal party, but there was an understanding among
them. J. Edgecombe is placed in this column for convenience. Although a small land-owner
like his brother whom he opposed, he was outside the social circle of the planter-merchant class
3. II.A. Fergus, History of Alliouagana: A Short History of Montserrat, University of the \West
Indies. Department ol IFxtra-Mural Studies (Montserrat). 1975. p. 40.
4. The People's Liberation Movement, Manifesto: Policy for Progress, 1978, pp. 3, 10, 13.
5. J.A.G. Irish, "MAWU Speaks Out" in Montserrat Mirror, November 25, 1978, p. 3. He may not
have gone to the extent suggested by Irish, but had shown reluctance to recognize the Montser-
rat Allied Workers Union. For a rejoiner from P.A. Bramble, see Montserrat Mirror, December 9,
6. I.A. George Irish, idem.
7. D.P.J. Wood, "The Smaller Territories: Some Political Considerations" in Problems of Smaller
Territories, R. Benedict (ed.), London, University of London. The Athlone Press, 1967, p. 33.
8. [-or the terms of the Irish-PLM pact as stated by Irish, see Montserrat Mirror, November 18,
1978, p. 7.
9. J.A.G. Irish, idem.
10. J.A.G. Irish, "MAWU Speaks Out", op. cit.
11. D.P.J. Wood. op. cit.
12. J.A.G. Irish, Montserrat Mirror, November 18, 1978, p. 7.
13. Montserrat Mirror, March 23, 1978, p. 12; The People's Liberation Movement, Manifesto:
Policy for Progress, 1978, p. 3.
14. See article "Chicken, D.F.M.C. and the Chamber" and "Editor's Note" in Montserrat Mirror
November 18, 1978, p. 7.
15. Montserrat Labour Party, Manifesto, 1951.
16. The People's Liberation Movement, op. cit.
ELECTIONS AND POLITICS IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN:
JULY 1979 TO AUGUST 1980
The electorate in five Eastern Caribbean islands went to the polls during the fourteen-
month period between July 1979 to August 1980.
The first of the five elections took place in St Lucia on July 2nd 1979, which was
followed by elections in St Vincent on December 5th 1979: in St Kitts-Nevis on February
18th 1980; in Antigua on April 24th and in Dominica on August 29th 1980.
Every one of these elections had at least one peculiar characteristic which differentiated
it from all previous elections in the particular island and which not only acted as an indi-
cator in determining the political stance and level of development of the island but which
also makes it necessary for one to deal with each island as a separate phenomenon.
There is however one feature which was common to most of the elections. For the
first time in the history of the islands there were left-wing or Marxist-oriented organiza-
tions taking part in the electoral process.l With the exception of St Kitts-Nevis, a left of
centre party took part in each of the elections.
As indicated above, each of the islands had its own peculiarities, which, if not first
understood, will make it difficult to understand any similarity in trends between the
islands and would render any general conclusions incomprehensible. This article will
therefore deal with each island separately.
On December 5th 1979 the Vincentian electorate went to the polls against the back-
ground of independence from Britain granted on October 27th of that year and the
partial devastation of the Vincentian economy as a result of the eruption of the Soufriere
volcano on April 13th of the same year.
For the first time Vincentians were being faced with an alternative to the usual pro-
West parties. This alternative came by way of the United People's Movement (UPM), a
left of centre coalition party led by Dr Ralph Gonsalves, former lecturer at the University
of the West Indies. For this reason and also because the 1979 elections (the ninth since
1951) were the first general elections in the island since independence; they were the
most important elections in the island's history.
It is now history that the elections were won by the incumbent St Vincent Labour
Party (SVLP) led by Prime Minister Milton Cato. Only one of the three opposition
parties won any seats in these elections. Two of the thirteen seats were won by the New
Democratic Party (NDP) led by James Mitchell, a former Premier.
The victory of the Labour Party signified the settling down of the political system in
St Vincent. Before the 1979 elections it was difficult to say that St Vincent, like the rest
of the Caribbean had had a system where political power is usually controlled by one
party for at least ten years before any change is made by the electorate. To date only one
party in St Vincent has ever held power for an unbroken period of more than nine years.
The People's Political Party (PPP) of Ebenezer Joshua won the elections of 1957, 1961
and 1966. Before the party was able to get down to business for the third term, however,
a member of Parliament for the PPP crossed the floor, thus disturbing the delicate five-
four balance which existed in the nine-seat Hlouse and thereby forced an election in 1967.
Vincentian politics since 1951 therefore have been quite fluid, both in terms of the
electorate's adherence to a particular party and also in terms of the stability of party
structures. Over the twenty-eight-year period, 1951 to 1979, St Vincent had eight general
elections and the electorate swung back and forth between parties with relative rapidity.
In 1951 The Eighth Army won all the seats to the Legislative Council. By 1954 the
party was defunct and the seats were shared in the elections of that year between the
newly formed PPP and independent candidates. In 1957 the PPP captured the majority
of the nine elected seats but lost the government by 1967 only to regain it in the form of
a coalition in 1972 and to lose it again in 1974.2
At the same time while the Vincentian electorate was swinging back and forth
between the PPP and the SVLP, Vincentian politicians were busy grouping and regrouping
as if unable to find a resting place. This is another feature of Eastern Caribbean politics
unique to St Vincent. Between 1951 and 1979 there have been no less than thirteen
party desertions by prominent politicians.3 In this same period at least four political
parties have contested elections and then faded out of existence. The Eighth Army of
1951 had died by 1954. The Sylvester/Mitchell coalition known as the Junta was formed
in 1974 and died within months of its birth. The same is true of the West Indies National
Party (WINP) and in terms of practical politics, true also of the Democratic Freedom
The two features common to Vincentian politics up to 1979 therefore was relatively
rapid change of allegiance by the electorate and the relative ease with which political
figures moved from one party to another. Tied to this is the frequency with which new
parties are formed within the state.
The 1979 elections were important because they provided an opportunity to see
whether the fluid nature of the electorate would continue or not. This issue was a
crucial one because, except for the disastrous two-year period of 1972-1974 when the
Mitchell/PPP coalition held power, there was no significant difference either in outlook or
performance between the other parties which held power periodically.
The period 1974 to 1979 had witnessed stable growth in the Vincentian economy.
For example, the Gross Domestic Product had increased by an average of 9.8% between
1974 and 1978. Coupled with this fact, for the first time in its history the Vincentian
electorate was being asked whether they would support a party with a different ideologi-
cal outlook from the one they had known previously. The fact that the people went out
and voted for the SVLP, albeit with a little more reluctance than they had done in 1974,4
suggested that they had finally decided to stabilize themselves and to return to power
a party which they believed had done some good during its last term in office. Had the
elections of December 5 been a straight PPP, SVLP, NDP fight the above conclusion
could be advanced without fear of contradiction. However, the inclusion in the elections
of the UPM makes the above conclusion simplistic and in need of expansion.
While the leaders of the PPP, SVLP and NDP were seasoned politicians by the time of
the 1979 elections, the leader of the UPM was totally unaccustomed to electoral politics.
In fact, while the entire party apparatus of the other parties was centrist or right of
centre with its leader being an avowed Marxist.
West Indian societies have had for a long time and will continue to have for some
time to come, a morbid fear for communism. In this respect every person who advocates
a non-capitalist path to development or a weakening of economic ties between the West
Indies and the West is labelled a "communist." This fear of communism and Marxism is
something which has been deeply implanted in the minds of the people since the period
of the Cold War. West Indian people, therefore, are not naturally eager at this time to
associate themselves with left-leaning parties and this feeling is stronger in the Eastern
Caribbean where the communities are more rural in nature and where industrial develop-
ment is at a much lower level than in the larger islands. The traditional parties in the
individual islands know the fears of the people. They also know that given the socio-
economic situation of the islands one of the best ways of keeping back the development
of left-wing parties is to keep these fears of the people alive.
In St Vincent it was apparent from the beginning of the election campaign that all
energies would be directed against the UPM. Significantly, just months before the elec-
tions a four-part article was published in the Vincentian newspaper. The article was
entitled "Political Trends in the Caribbean" and one paragraph in the final part of that
article summed up the approach towards left-wing parties which was drilled into the
minds of the electorate:
Our countries are poor and suffering, and can do without such socialism or 'socialist
orientation' . . If we do not establish democratic Governments and lay the founda-
tions of abundance through Agricultural and other means, while educating our masses
functionally to harness it, we shall be faced with ideological hair-splitting fanatics who,
if given control of our state, will divide poverty among the masses, make themselves
very comfortable as the state bureaucracy, and explain it all away with high-flown
On numerous occasions during the election campaign members of the electorate were
told by candidates from both the PPP and the NDP that if they did not want to vote for
either party they should vote for the Labour Party. The Labour Party at the same time
directed all its energies at the UPM. The election campaign ended up as a two-way fight-
the UPM against the rest.
In such a situation, the question whether the people voted for the Labour Party out of
a strong commitment to the party and its policies or out of a desire to play it safe in
order to keep out the "communists",.is a pertinent one. What is clear is that the entire
election campaign found the UPM constantly under attack from all sides. The party was
not only accused of being communist but the electorate was reminded that the party was
a coalition and their attention was directed to the problems being faced by the St Lucia
Labour Party (SLLP) which is itself a kind of coalition. Added to this, the worst press
reports on happenings in Grenada were fed to the public, increasing their inherent fear
of left-wing organizations.
It is credible therefore to suggest that the Vincentian elections were contested in an
atmosphere where the ruling party had been able to provide the framework for relative
growth over the last five years. The Government had also undoubtedly won the hearts of
large sections of the people for its handling of the crisis created by the eruption of the
Soufriere volcano. The PPP had lost a lot of support as a result of its disastrous decision
in 1972 to form a coalition with Mitchell in order to form the government, and its almost
total withdrawal from the election campaign in 1974 when both Ebenezer Joshua and his
wife, Ivy, openly supported the Labour Party. The NDP had very little base on the
St Vincent mainland and the bulk of its support was in the Grenadines which comprised
one constituency. And finally, the UPM was putting forward a totally new approach to
the running of government. In such a situation the SVLP was virtually assured of victory
from the outset, once the Vincentian electorate had settled down.
It is significant however that with all the opposition the UPM had to face, the party,
contesting its first elections, was able to collect 13.5% of the popular vote.6 Taking all
factors into consideration the UPM's performance is creditable. Another significant fact is
that this support is not concentrated in any one area but is spread throughout the island.
This is perhaps the single most important lesson of the elections. The fact that the SVLP
won eleven of the thirteen seats contested, though significant, is probably overshadowed
by the UPM's performance. This is so because, when the SVLP's victory is analysed
closely, one sees that the party was losing its broad popular support. The SVLP was
supported by 37.72% of the electorate in 1972 and 43.33% in 1974 but by only 34.34%
in 1979. It must also be noted that two of the eleven candidates who won seats for the
SVLP in the 1979 elections did so with a minority of the popular votes.
On April 24th 1980 the people of Antigua went to the polls to elect a government
which will most likely take the, island into independence from Britain. Three parties
contested the Antigua elections. The Antigua Labour Party (ALP) and the Progressive
Labour Movement (PLM) were seasoned veterans, while the Antigua Caribbean Liberation
Movement (ACLM) was a newcomer to the electoral process.
Two features made the 1980 elections unique. One, the leader of the PLM was in jail
at the time of the elections and secondly the ACLM, a left-wing organization, had decided
to contest an election after twelve years as a pressure group.
At the end of the 1976 general elections the two leading figures within the PLM were
indicted for offences allegedly committed during the Party's term of office (1971-1976).
The two charged were Donald Ilalstead and former Premier George Walter. llalstead was
never brought to trial as he had left the island some time before proceedings against him
reached the trial stage. Walter was tried and convicted and sentenced to three years in
prison. The sentence was handed down shortly before the April elections and although
Walter had appealed he was kept incarcerated until the appeal was dealt with which was
after the elections. The imprisonment of Walter and the flight of Halstead had robbed the
PLM of its two greatest assets. Walter was the party's chief organizer and Halstead was
its chief personality. It was against this background that the party entered the elections.
The politics of Antigua, though not significantly different from the politics of the rest
of the Eastern Caribbean, have always been based on strong paternalism. Antigua along
with St Kitts and Barbados are the only islands in the region which could be considered
genuine plantation economies. The nature of the socio-economic formation therefore
provided for a greater paternalism than in other places. It is not surprising, therefore, that
organizations of a leftist nature have taken a much longer time to develop in these
islands. To date St Kitts has no left-wing organization of any consequence, and, although
the ACLM has existed in Antigua since 1968 and is usually very vocal, the results of the
elections show that the Movement is taken much less seriously in the electoral arena than
other left-wing groups in the region. All nine ACLM candidates lost their deposits in the
The Antiguan electorate in 1980 was not prepared to give any serious consideration
to the candidates of the ACLM. This factor is very significant because it shows that there
is a line of demarcation between people's perception of a political party and a political
pressure group. The ACLM has always been a very vocal group. It has always enjoyed a
sympathetic ear with the populace on the issues which it dealt with from time to time.
In 1978 and 1979 when it raised an outcry against the operations of the Canadian Space
Research Corporation which was shipping weapons from Antigua to South Africa, the
Party not only got the full support of large sections of the population but also got
international recognition. The leader of the ACLM was asked to address the United
Nations on the matter of SRC's activities in Antigua. But that kind of activity and that
kind of popularity is different from that which is necessary to gain political power. In
order to assess one's chances in an election in Antigua one has to be able to assess to what
extent his movement has had an effect on the nature of politics in the island. With due
respect to the ACLM it does not appear as if the organization had yet been able to
have the kind of impact which would render it a serious contender in the minds of the
Both the ALP and the PLM have a strong union base. The ALl' was formed out of
the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (ATLU) which was registered as a trade union
on March 3rd 1940. "The ATLU, ironically enough, was formed by Antiguan business-
men on the instigation of Sir Walter Citrine."7 The ATLU/ALP coalition gave the
party political success from very early in the island's representative political history. The
Party and Union leader, Premier Vere Bird, for example, first won a seat in the Legislative
Council in 1956 and the Party remained in power for fifteen years before being defeated
in 1971 and then only remained in opposition for one term. The PLM has the same kind
of link with the Antigua Workers Union (AWU) as the ALP/ATLU and in a sense the
PLM/AWU is really just a break-away faction of the ALP/ATLU.
From its inception in 1940, the ATLU had grown in strength to be able to assure its
leaders of political office. By 1971 however the union party alliance had apparently led
the leaders to believe that they were indispensable. There was no real challenge to the
ALP during the fifties and most of the sixties and in the same way the GULP/GMMWU
alliance in Grenada had led Gairy to believe he was always secure, the Antigua alliance
produced the same result. In 1971 the people decided that there was another faction of
the Labour movement to which they could turn for leadership. This of course was the
PLM/AWU. So in 1971, partly as a result of the ALP/ATLU's complacence the party was
voted out of office in what was a PLM landslide victory. To a large extent the demise of
the PLM in 1980 was merely a more extreme form of what happened in the 1976
elections and a direct result of the way the economy performed between 1971 and 1976.
The following tables give some indication of the performance in certain areas of the
economy between 1971 and 1976.
Retail Prices of Selected Commodities
Commodity Quantity 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976
(Indian Maid) 2 lbs 0.64 0.70 0.85 2.48 2.10 1.44 1.60
(backs & necks) 5 lbs 1.75 1.85 2.00 2.50 3.50 3.90 4.95
(local) 1 gal 4.00 6.00 6.00 6.48 7.00 13.50 10.50
Figures are for the first day in January.
Number of Animals Slaughtered and Quantity of Meat Yielded
Beef of Beef
Year Animals (met. tons)
Sheep of Mutton
and Goat (met. tons)
Pigs (met. tons)
hourly Wage Rates in Selected Occupations
1970 1971 1972 1973
Drivers of heavy
1.20 1.76 2.14 2.29 2.40 n.a.
1.00 1.20 1.36 1.46 1.52 n.a.
2.00 2.80 3.47 3.71 3.90 n.a.
1.10 1.47 1.87 2.00 2.10 n.a.
Main Labour Force Indicafors (December 1974 & 1975)
Male Female Total Male Female Total
Labour force as a
% of population
16 years and over 73.59 35.92 52.45 75.96 41.03 57.06
Employed as a %
of labour force 85.24 73.01 80.54 84.44 71.03 79.23
Unemployed as a
%of labour force 14.76 26.99 19.46 15.56 28.97 20.77
Added to the above was the fact that it was during the PLM's term of office that the
ailing sugar industry was finally laid to rest thus adding to the list of unemployed. It was
also during this period that a number of imported foodstuffs were banned before adequate
local supplies or proper local alternatives could be found thus causing increased hardship
in an economy which was barely surviving. It is usually the effect of a failing economy
rather than the cause which is important at election time and the Antiguan electorate
voted the way they did as a result of the bad economic conditions.
Between 1976 and 1980 there was a general though not spectacular improvement in
the standard of living of the masses of Antiguans. The effect of this improvement was to
make the electorate stick closer to the "Old Man" Vere Bird. The results of the 1980
elections are interesting not so much because the ALP won thirteen of the seventeen
seats but because the party won the seats by such overwhelming majorities. Of the eleven
seats won by the ALP on its return to power in 1976, five were marginal seats vulnerable
to swings of three percent or less.
The following table shows the vulnerable seats.
Six ALP Seats in 1976
No. on No. of Vulnerable to
Constituency Voters' List Votes Cast ALP PLM percent swing
St John City S. 1306 1236 630 606 2%
St John Rural W. 2885 2680 1383 1297 3%
St John Rural S. 2010 1877 948 929 1%
StGeorge 1964 1885 973 912 3%
St Philip S. 1035 1000 501 499 0.2%
On the other hand, of the live seats won by the PLM four were won by margins of 21%
and over, as Ihe following table shows. (5)
Four PLM Seats in 1976
No. on No. of Vulnerable to
Constituency Voters' List Votes Cast ALP PLM percent swing
St John City W. 2102 1873 604 269 35.5%
St Mary S. 1372 1323 435 888 34.0%
St Luke 1450 1366 548 818 40.0%
All Saints 2404 2242 890 1352 21.0%
Since the Eastern Caribbean is not known for violent swings during elections one
would have expected that the PLM would have entered the 1980 elections with five safe
seats notwithstanding minor changes made to constituency boundaries. This belief is
reinforced by the fact that the PLM got on an aggregate, more votes than the ALP in
1976. The total votes received for the PLM was 12,268 to the ALP's 12,056. It was also
reasonable to believe that if there were any candidates who had to worry in 1980 it
would have been the five ALP candidates who just barely scraped home in 1976, especially
the candidate for St Philip South who won by two votes in 1976. As it turned out these
candidates had absolutely nothing to worry about as the swings experienced in the 1980
elections were unprecedented.
The following table shows the same six ALP seats at the end of the 1980 elections.
Five ALP Seats in 1980
No. of Vulnerable to
Constituency Votes Cast ALP PLM ACLM percent swing
St John City S. 1048 597 451 14%
St John Rural W. 2216 1250 897 69 13%
St John Rural S. 1499 889 585 25 20%
St George 1757 1102 655 25%
St Philip S. 995 606 389 22%
Results of this nature suggest two things. One, the majority of voters who decided to
participate in the elections voted as if Antigua were one constituency and they were
voting uniformly for a party or its leader rather than for the individual candidates. Only
this explanation can justify the fact that the candidate for St Philip South who won his
seat by two votes in 1976 and who, as Minister of Education, had serious clashes with the
Antiguan teachers and obvious problems during that term of office could win by a 22%
margin in 1980. The second factor is that neither Halstead nor Walter was present for the
PLM's team in the elections. This posed leadership problems and with a white man with
plantation interests being chosen as the party leader the party supporters might have
refused to go out and vote for a leader with whom they could not identify. This helps
to explain why the PLM in 1980 could manage only 8,654 votes out of 21,890 votes cast
while the party got 12,268 out of 24,890 votes cast in 1976.
Like the other islands, Dominica had its general elections in very unusual circum-
In June 1979 The Government of Patrick John was forced out of office by a mass
uprising, thus putting an end to twenty years of uninterrupted Labour Party rule in
Dominica. The circumstances surrounding the resignation of the John Government can
be narrated very briefly. Patrick John and other members of his Government had gone
on a number of "secret" missions in the years preceding 1979. No tangible benefit was
seen for Dominica as a result of these missions, but the treasury suffered a significant
depletion of funds by way of expenses for these foreign missions. It was discovered in
1978 that John's Attorney General, Guyanese-born Leo Austin, was involved, apparently
with the knowledge of John, in a number of "deals" with dubious foreign banks. By
January 1979 news started to leak out about some secret deals which were being made
between Patrick John on behalf of the Dominican Government and Sydney Burnette
Alleyne, a Barbadian gun-runner, on behalf of the Mercantile Bank, a negligible bank
which operated in Barbados for a short while. The deals between the Government and the
bank had been negotiated since 1975. The New Chronicle newspaper of January 13, 1979
published a copy of an agreement signed between John and Alleyne whereby the Mercan-
tile Bank was to set up a corporation in Dominica to be known as the Dominica
Development Corporation. This was to be a subsidiary of the Mercantile Bank. The
Subsidiary was to promote funds for the construction of an international size, jet airline
airport at Point Compton, with terminal buildings, a hotel with a casino and service
facilities. The Bank would be given the right to set up an oil refinery and subsidiary
industries and the Premier (as John then was) would without unreasonable delay, grant
work permits to persons recruited to work in the refinery at the request of Burnette
Alleyne. To offset shortfalls in the revenue of the state as a result of the agreement
the bank agreed to pay fifty million Eastern Caribbean dollars per year to the Accountant
General for the revenue of the state. The deal did not materialise as Alleyne was soon
arrested and imprisoned in Martinique for illegally transporting arms to Barbados,
allegedly to be used in an armed overthrow of the Adams Government.
Late in 1978 the Dominican Prime Minister was strongly implicated in disclosures
of a plot by Burnette Alleyne who was by then out of jail, to invade Barbados with 350
Following fast upon this was the disclosure of an agreement between John on behalf
of the Dominican Government and an American Corporation known as the Texas Carib-
bean Southern Corporation for the establishment of a free-port with resort-type develop-
ment including casinos, banks, radio and television stations and hotels. This scheme
would involve 45 square miles of Dominica's land space.
When public outcry against all of these misdeeds of the John administration began to
grow, the Prime Minister's reaction was to attempt to force through Parliament two bills
which would put tighter control on the press and the trade union movement. When
thousands of people gathered in Roseau to protest the passing of the two bills the army
was called out and one young man was shot and killed and others wounded. The result
of all these acts of the Government was the forced removal of the John Administration
by the concerted action of the people, spearheaded by a Committee of National Salvation
(CNS) headed by Charles Saverin of The Dominica Civil Service Association.
Within months of the resignation of the John Administration Hurricane David
(generally believed to be the worst hurricane this century) reduced the entire island to
full mendicant status.
The elections of 1980 therefore were held against a background of a non-elected
coalition Interim Government, representing all the ideological forces in the island, and
an economy struggling to survive after the devastation of David.
Of the parties contesting the elections the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) was the
most organized and most likely to win.
The Dominica Labour Party had been split as a result of the last years of the John
Administration. There were now two labour parties to face the electorate. The Dominica
Labour Party (Dom. Lab.) led by John and the Democratic Labour Party (Dem. Lab.)
led by Interim Prime Minister Oliver Seraphine, who had resigned from John's Cabinet
before the Government was forced to resign.
The Dominica Liberation Movement Alliance (DLMA) was a new party, and as the
name suggests, it was more of an alliance of a number of small left-leaning groups than a
party. In this respect it bore some similarities to the UPM of St Vincent.
Dominicans were not as unaware of the notion of socialism as Vincentians however.
When the DLP was formed in 1955 by Phyllis Shand Allfrey it was made clear that the
party would be guided by what she called "Tropical Socialism."9
The socialist orientation of the DLMA was different from the Fabian Socialism of
Phyllis Shand Allfrey however. It was not merely social reformism but a non-capitalist
alternative which would be developed in stages. As the results of the elections showed,
the Dominican people approached this new ideological outlook with caution. They did
not reject it outright nor did they refuse to be troubled by it as was the case in Antigua.
But they did not rush headlong to embrace it either. In the end the Alliance failed to win
any seats but was given enough votes on their first outing to provide the party with the
encouragement it needs to continue and to possibly grow into a viable opposition in the
The Dom. Lab. entered the elections with no real chance of success. The party was
deserted by those members who had any public credibility left after June 1979. By the
time of the elections the Dom. Lab. was reduced to a hotch-potch of political hangers-on
and people with very tarnished public images. After the massive and systematic campaign
waged by the DFP and the systematic criticism of the New Chronicle newspaper the party
was almost totally destroyed. In fact the destruction of the party had started almost from
the day Patrick John took over leadership of the party in 1974.10 One of the first pieces
of legislation passed by the John Administration was the infamous Prohibited and Unlaw-
ful Societies and Associations Act passed within months of John becoming Premier,
By 1975 the party had started to fall apart with the resignation of Michael Douglas, one
of the most popular members of Parliament at the time.
The Dem. Lab. was never really a party. It was formed by Oliver Seraphine just
months before elections and was a coalition of centre elements like Seraphine, left of
centre like Mike Douglas and far left like Rosie Douglas. As the base of the Party's
support was the same as that of the Dom. Lab. it stood to reason that the both parties
would be fighting for the same votes, neither having any independent base outside of the
Labour Party which the Dom. Lab. started in the fifties.
The DFP, formed in the late sixties was until recently an urban party. Its leader
Eugenia Charles is from a big landowning family, a qualification which did not go very
well with the largely rural population of Dominica.
In 1970 the DFP won two of the then eleven seats in the elections of that year. In
1975 the party won three seats in the constituencies of Roseau, Soufriere and Grandbay.
Between 1975 and 1980 the party set to work, expanding its urban base throughout the
rural communities. The task was made immeasurably easier as a result of the excesses
carried on by the John Administration. After the removal of John in 1979 the Freedom
Party threw everything it had into the work of party building in preparation for the
inevitable general elections. Eugenia Charles quite cleverly stayed clear of any real
association with the Interim Government thus taking no risk in tarnishing her party's
chances as a result of that Government's performance. While Seraphine and Douglas
were tied down with the task of rebuilding a totally battered economy the DFP was
sinking roots into the rural areas of Dominica.
In a sense Seraphine was thrown as a lamb to the slaughter when he was made Interim
Prime Minister. He was given a government of rightists, centrists and leftists. The possibi-
lity of achieving the kind of balance which would have been necessary to make such a
government function was virtually nil, given the inexperience and limited ability of
Seraphine. This was the perfect situation for the DFP. Seraphine in such a situation was
bound to drag down himself, his party and the Dom. Lab. Given the limitations of the
Alliance the gate was left open for the Freedom Party. In the elections the DFP won
seventeen of the twenty-one seats in Parliament, while the Dem. Lab. could only manage
two, the other two going to independent candidates, leaving both the Dom. Lab. and the
DLMA without a seat.
The August elections in Dominica suggest once again that as in the case of St Vincent
and Antigua the electorate had reacted as if it had been asked to vote in a single constit-
uency. It was by and large a straight party and personality vote--the DFP and Eugenia
The St Lucia elections had more or less the same ideological polarisation as the three
dealt with above, although in St Lucia the elections were between two well established
While the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) before 1973 was no different from the Labour
parties of Antigua or St Vincent, the merging of the SLP with the St Lucia Action
Movement (SLAM) in that year changed the nature of the Labour Party and moved it
leftward along the ideological continuum. George Odlum, Peter Josie, Kenny Anthony,
and to a lesser extent, Jon Odium and Micky Pilgrim all have an ideological outlook
which tends towards revolutionary democracy. Both George Odlum and Peter Josie were
leading members of SLAM, and it was their going across to the SLP in 1973 which
objectively brought about a merger of the two. The inclusion of these two into the
SLP's list of candidates in both 1974 and 1979 suggested an objective move to the left.
Prior to July 1979 the SLP had been in opposition for fifteen years. In 1979 the party
was more prepared than ever before for challenging the United Workers Party (UWP) of
John Compton for political power. This preparedness came as a result of a five-year-long
campaign carried out by the SLP. In 1974 when the elections were held both George
Odlum and Peter Josie were new to the political arena. They had not yet learnt to master
all the tactics which were necessary in order to compete successfully in the electoral
system. The minute the elections were over, howe er, they immediately set to work to
put in practice all they had learnt in the recently concluded elections along with their
own brand of agitation. Party mass-meetings and constituency campaigns became a
regular part of the SLP activities over the next five years. The party did not allow the
LW'P the slightest breathing space. What they could not air in Parliament they ventilated
fully on the market steps in Castries. The slightest misconduct of the UWP was brought
to every home throughout the length and breadth of St Lucia.
The UWP in the meantime was providing the SLP with all the fuel it needed for its
fire. The UWP had embarked on a policy of industrialization by invitation which was not
showing tangible results fast enough. In 1979 only 4,200 people were employed in some
79 industrial operations throughout the island. Fourteen garment factories employed
an additional 500.11 The voting population of Castries North East alone was over 8,000.
Although the per capital income of St Lucia was growing, to the extent that in 1979
the island had the second highest per capital income in the Eastern Caribbean, second only
to Barbados, unemployment was not decreasing appreciably. It was in this atmosphere
that the Compton Government entered into an agreement with the Amerada Hess, a
company interested in building an oil transhipment port and probably an oil refinery in
St Lucia. Compton immediately set out to introduce the Hess Project as a solution to the
employment and economic problems of the island. Although the opposition signed the
agreement to bring the project into life it nevertheless decided to show the people that
Hess was no Godsend and would not solve in any appreciable way the problems of the
island. The short and long term benefit of the project to St Lucia was 2,000 temporary
jobs in the construction phases of the port and US two cents per barrel of crude oil
shipped from the port and US four cents per barrel of refined petroleum. It was this small
sum that the opposition was primarily against.
The posing of Iless as an answer to the employment problem by Compton was his
greatest mistake because when scores of the unemployed found it impossible to find
employment with Hless the blame was laid at his feet. What was worst was that the Hess
officials, either as a result of being unaccustomed to dealing with Caribbean people or of
being in the habit of dealing with people in a high-handed manner, caused social tension
to develop around the project. In many instances St Lucians were met with arrogance
when they approached Iless in search of employment. As the West Indies Chronicle
belatedly pointed out:
The less Project itself could, however, create social tensions. Many St Lucians are
neither enamoured with the Company's local business methods nor with their
attitude . the sooner the Company employs at least one person or a public relations
officer the better.12
Compton after years in office had begun to lose touch with the people. He had
developed a devil-may-care attitude to his-position as leader of a political party and
leader of a government. He was therefore far from cautious about what he said to the
electorate. On one occasion when civil servants and teachers struck for example, it was
alleged that Compton publicly said "They can strike 'til doomsday." The SLP made great
political mileage out of these blunders.
The UWP's approach to the elections of July 2nd was a very unsophisticated one.
They obviously felt that as they had led the island into elections a few months earlier
the people would have felt obliged to give the party another term in office. The campaign
was therefore limited to making the people aware of the fact that the World Bank had
praised the Government for its financial management and that the per capital income
of the island had steadily increased. These meant little to a population of roughly 30%
The other limb of the UWP's campaign was to accuse the SLP of being a communist
party and to hope that it would have driven fear into the people. The UWP had forgotten
that the SLP candidates like Odium. Josie and Pilgrim were running in constituencies
with large concentrations of young people. That the young people could more easily
identify with the Odlums and the Josies than with the Comptons. They were forgetting
also that the euphoria surrounding the overthrow of Gairy in Grenada was still very high
in the minds of the young people which made up the bulk of the electorate. And finally
the kind of anti-communism propagated by the UWP was so childish that it could hardly
appeal to any but the most gullible. For example, on many occasions speakers on the
UWP's platforms told the public that the SLP will take over the churches and turn them
into discos should they win the elections. Even in a Christian country like St Lucia one
would expect a little more sophistication in order to sway the people.
The results of the elections showed a landslide victory for the SLP which won twelve
of the seventeen seats in Parliament. The result was a rejection of Compton's approach
to the task of nation building. A rejection mainly by the young St Lucians between the
ages of 18 and 30 years. The vote was secondly an acceptance of the proposals of the
SLP and an endorsement of its left of centre leadership, some of whom won their seats
by very large majorities. George Odlum received 61.6% of the votes cast in his
constituency, Pilgrim received 61.96% and Josie received 58.12% while Jon Odlum
received 73.72% of the votes cast in his constituency.
The general elections in St Kitts-Nevis on February 18th 1980 was significant for
two reasons. Firstly, it saw the first change of government in St Kitts-Nevis in 28 years
and secondly, it saw the establishment of a coalition government for the first time in the
For over twenty-five years the name of Robert Bradshaw was equal to the title of
Leader of the State of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. Twenty years after the formation of the
St Kitts Workers League and some seventeen years after the riots at Bucldey's Estate in
1935 which signalled the beginning of the Caribbean riots in the 1930s, Robert Bradshaw
came to hold the position of supreme political leader of the three-island state. Bradshaw
possessed the .charisma of a Bustamante and the will to serve of a Marryshow and in a
sense the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) had always been Bradshaw's party. It did
not depend on any rational structure for its survival'. It did not depend essentially on
"pork barrel" politics for its votes. It depended almost totally on the allegiance that the
people had for Bradshaw.
As was said earlier, St Kitts is one of the true plantation economies of the Eastern
Caribbean. Its socio-economic nature therefore lends itself to an extreme form of pat-
ternalism. The agro-proletariat on finding a person in whom they believe and on whom
they can depend for support, will hold on to that person, for as long as he is around.
Soon their admiration of the person becomes a duty which they will not neglect. This
was the case of Robert Bradshaw and the Kittian people.
Bradshaw was an ordinary working man who had worked and struggled with the sugar-
workers of St Kitts. te became their leader and they his followers to the extent that
elections in St Kitts for over twenty-five years became mere formalities. The electorate of
St Kitts always voted for whoever Bradshaw chose as his candidate without any questions
asked. The personality of Bradshaw was so overwhelming that regardless of what changes
took place in the economy the SKNLP was able to win every seat in St Kitts on every
occasion during Bradshaw's lifetime. The same was never the case in Nevis or Anguilla,
because the islands had never really accepted being governed from St Kitts and had never
accepted the SKNLP as their party. In 1967, for example, Anguilla attempted to break
away from St Kitts by force. Constitutionally, the break was short-lived at the time but,
for all practical purposes, the breakaway was to prove successful. Nevertheless, as St Kitts
has the largest population and the greatest number of seats in the state the SKNLP was
able to control the government on every occasion during Bradshaw's lifetime.
In May 1978 when Bradshaw died the state of St Kitts-Nevis was experiencing relative
calm. There was no tense social condition as existed in St Lucia over the Hess Project.
They did not have a tyranny as existed in Grenada under Gairy nor did they have the
kind of happenings which took place in Dominica in the last year of the John Govern-
ment. The only real problem existing at the time was the question of wage increases for
the sugar workers, (of course this is in addition to the perennial problems of unemploy-
ment and other social problems).
The fact that the SKNLP was enjoying success primarily as a result of Bradshaw
became immediately apparent on his death. In the by-election held shortly after the death
of Bradshaw to fill the seat he left vacant, the seat which he occupied unchallenged for
almost three decades was won by Dr Kennedy Simmonds, leader of the opposition
People's Action Movmnent (PAM). As the economy had taken no overwhelmingly drastic
turn for the worse between 1975 and 1978 this defeat of the Labour Party's candidate in
one of the party's strongest seats can only be attributable to two things. Firstly, some of
the older people felt no need to be bound to the party without Bradshaw and secondly,
the younger voters who would not have owed the same kind of allegiance to Bradshaw by
virtue of their age saw the need to change to a younger party to which the closeness of
their ages made them more easily identifiable and which they perceived as having the
intellectual and academic expertise to move the country forward.
With Bradshaw out of the way at the time of the 1980 elections the Labour Party
was hard pressed to make the party a viable organization. The kind of charismatic
authority on which the party existed during Bradshaw's time could not continue after
The Labour Party could have hoped for success had they had an impressive record of
achievement to go to the electorate, but they did not. Unemployment was still excessively
high and wages was still very low. The fact that there was no outstanding achievement on
which the party could go to the people was obvious from the fact that prominent amongst
its list of achievements, set out in the Party's Manifesto for elections was: "1952
Introduction of Adult Suffrage"; "Introduction of quasi-ministerial system": "1956
Introduction of full ministerial system", "1958 West Indies Federation formed" and
"1967 St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla becomes an Associated State." These were all achievements
which the younger section of the electorate would certainly have felt no great thrill about
as they had become so used to living in a state where those things were no longer issues as
to place little importance on them. The electorate was more interested in provision of
employment opportunities, the revival of sugar production, increased wages for sugar
workers, etc, all things that the Labour Party did not seem able to point the way towards.
The Labour Party therefore went into the elections in its weakest position ever. It still
had one hope however. The voting age in St Kitts-Nevis unlike most of the rest of the
region, is still 21 years. A relatively high percentage of voters therefore would be people
who would still remember Bradshaw. In fact it was amongst the young people of St Kitts
that an anti-Labour Party feeling was strong, but they had no vote. As it turned out the
Labour Party was still able to hold on to the majority of the support in St Kitts. The
SKNLP ended up with 59.72% of the votes cast in St Kitts to 39.61% for the PAM. The
SKNLP lost three seats in the process however, a situation which was unprecedented in
the Party's history. Losing three of the seven seats in St Kitts was sufficient to cause the
Party to lose its hold on the government as the Party was unable to win any of the seats in
Nevis. Both seats were won by the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), a party which bitterly
opposes the SKNLP as a result of what it perceives as had administration of Nevisian
affairs by the Party. The NRP is also set on taking Nevis out of the Union with St Kitts.
The PAM had put forward a team of what it called qualified and competent candidates
and argued sensibly the issues of the day: unemployment, bad social conditions, limited
educational opportunity, independence, relationship with Nevis, etc. The party won
three seats largely as a result of a desire for change by the younger voters and because
the Bradshaw magic had died with him.
The PAM, having won three seats and seeing the opportunity to form the government,
decided to seize it with both hands. PAM and the NRP entered into a coalition which gave
them a five to four majority in Parliament and hence the Government.
This coalition Government, while not being the first of its kind in the region is
undoubtedly unique because it is a coalition between two parties based on two different
islands in a situation where one of the island is hoping to break away from the other. It is
undoubtedly a coalition which the PAM entered into to give itself breathing space in
which they will be able to work to build a firm majority base on St Kitts. Since the
election the PAM leadership has set out to form a workers union to give the party the
kind of union-based support which the Labour Party has. If its plans materialise it might
get out of the coalition as soon as possible and go back to the electorate in order to seek
a clear mandate. Until the PAM is certain that it has made a significant impact on the
electorate of St Kitts, it is forced to sit in the present uncomfortable seat knowing that
any disagreement between itself and the NRP could cause it to lose the government.
The one feature which distinguishes the Kittian elections from all the others discussed
here is the fact that it was the only election of the five in which there was no ideological
confrontation. St Kitts-Nevis to date, unlike its sister states has no left of centre party.
This feature is hard to understand given the growing ideological awareness in the region as
a whole and given the fact that the ideological alternative to capitalism is being mooted
both regionally and internationally as the solution to the problems of the Third World.
One has to understand the politico-economic situation prevalent in St Kitts however.
The state is economically one of the worst off in the region. It is still basically a sugar-
growing island. Industries and manufacturing are negligible and even a good port is absent.
There is hardly any working class and as a result of its size and low level of development
the urban/rural dichotomy is virtually non-existent. Added to this is the overwhelming
personality of Bradshaw which for a time had a stultifying effect on all other political
The politics in St Kitts as it stood up to the time of the February elections is much
less sophisticated than the politics in the other territories.
In conclusion therefore one can say that there were three essential features of the
politics of the Eastern Caribbean between July 1979 and August 1980. Firstly, the desire
for change was not uniformly expressed throughout the islands. Secondly, the electorate
in the individual territories continued to vote as if they were concentrated in one con-
stituency instead of in several. Thirdly, the period saw the emergence of left-wing political
parties in the electoral arena.
The desire for change which seems to have been sweeping the region in the last year or
two did not find uniform expression in the elections of the Eastern Caribbean. Of the five
elections held, three parties were removed from office while two were returned.
It is important to note that of the case of the three parties which were removed from
office each one had held political power for at least fifteen years preceding the elections.
The UWP in St Lucia was in office fior 1964 to 1979: the SKNLP held office from 1952
to 1980 and the Dominica Labour Party had held office from 1961 until 1979. It was in
these islands, therefore, where political power was concentrated in the hands of one party
for a fairly long time that the wind of change was high. The reasons for this feeling for
change in these islands are obvious. Firstly, the parties in all tlvee cases had begun to lose
touch with their constituents (much more so in St Lucia and Dominica than in St Kitts).
Secondly, the economies had been growing at very slow rates and even where the growth
was relatively rapid as in St Lucia it was not the kind of growth which very easily
generated increased employment and other broad social benefits to keep abreast with the
problems caused by increased population. And thirdly, the opposition parties were more
organized than they were in the past.
In the other two islands, of the parties in power at the time of the elections, neither
had been in power for an unbroken period of more than five years immediately preceding
the elections. The SVLP had only been returned to power in 1974 and so had done only
one term at the time of the elections. The picture was the same in Antigua.
In botl cases heiefore the feeling for change would not have been as great as in the
other three islands. Added to the fact that these parties had been in office for only one
term was the fact that the last administrations to hold office in both islands before these
parties were singularly disastrous. The five-year period preceding the elections was there-
fore a time of relative growth compared to the five years (or two) before. It was natural
therefore that these parties would be returned to power.
It has always been a feature of Eastern Caribbean politics that the electorate voted for
one party or another as if they were voting in one constituency. On every occasion before
1980 the electorate in St Kitts returned all the candidates of the SKNLP. In Antigua the
PLM won the overwhelming majority of the seats in 1971. In 1976 that position was
reversed and the ALP won eleven of seventeen seats. Again in 1980 the ALP won a vast
majority of the seats winning 13 of 17. In Dominica between 1961 and 1975, the DLP
won almost all the seats in Parliament, the opposition being unable to win more than
three. In 1980 the DFP won 17 of 21. In St Vincent the SVLP won 10 of 13 in 1974
and 11 of 13 in 1979.
The main reason for this kind of voting pattern to emerge is the fact that, due to the
low-level of political development of these islands, a factor directly related to the Ipw-
level of economic development, the politics of the islands are highly personalised.
Manifestoes are more or less unimportant and primary importance is placed on the
leaders. This pattern of voting is also a direct result of the small size of the islands and the
relative lack of difference in the electorate. This characteristic is likely to remain for
It is suggested, however, that the emergence of left-wing organizations in the region
and the serious approach they have to politics will eventually cause the politics of the
islands to be less personality oriented. Until the economies develop the success of left-
wing organizations in raising the consciousness of the electorate will be limited.
The emergence of left-wing organizations in the Eastern Caribbean and indeed the
whole region cannot be seen in isolation to the growing strength of the world socialist
system and the relatively poor performance of the world capitalist system in the past few
The difficulty faced by the traditional parties to improve the economic condition of
the peoples of the islands is seen by the young intellectuals of the region as a result of
being tied to the world capitalist system. This has caused them to search for alternative
paths to development and invariably they arrive at the conclusion that a non-capitalist
path to development based on a socialist orientation is thle only path to success.
The task of bringing this across to a people which is largely rural and peasant-oriented
is a very difficult one indeed. By and large the new left-leaning parties have lived up to
the challenge, but they have entered the electoral arena at a severe disadvantage. They are
inexperienced in the methods of campaigning and organization necessary to bring
electoral success in the countries of the Caribbean. They are attempting to get the people
interested in an ideology against which the people have a built-in block as a result of
decades of cultural indoctrination and they are, in some cases, attempting to convince
the people of the virtue of a path of development for which the material basis is non-
Given all the constraints in which these new parties operate it is surprising that in
general they have done so well. Far from being rejected outright by the electorate the
UPM in St Vincent and the DLMA in Dominica have been able to secure enough votes in
their first attempt to give them the kind of encouragement they need to continue. It is
true that they have not won any seats, but in many cases the candidates of the left-wing
parties did better in their first attempt than some of the candidates of the traditional
It must be said therefore that these parties have, by and large, secured a foothold in
the Eastern Caribbean and, given the likelihood of the continued slow or non-existent
development of these islands, their future in the islands' political systems is secured.
1. The New Jewel Movement of Grenada took part in the 1976 elections in alliance with the
GNP and the UPP, but this was the first time for the islands involved in this paper.
2. See generally, Duncan, N.C., The Vincentian Elections, 1974. Cave Hill. Institute of Social
and Fconoiiiic Research, U.W.I., 1975.
4. In 1974 the SVLP got a larger percentage of the popular vote than in 1979.
5. The Vincentian is a weekly newspaper published in St Vincent. It is the only newspaper in the
island which is not officially connected to a political party. First part of "Political Trends in
the Caribbean" was publishedon August 24, 1979.
6. The percentage was calculated from the preliminary figures taken by the writer on election
night. It is suggested however that the Oflicial figures which will eventually be published by Ihe
electoral office will not differ in any material way.
7. Smith, L.U., "The Antigua General Elections, 1980", Bulletin of Eastern Caribbean Affairs,
Vol. 6, No. 1, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Cave Hill, U.W.I., March/April 1980,
8. All tables are taken from the article on the Antiguan General Elections. Bulletin of Eastern
Caribbean Affairs, Vol. 6. No. 1.
9. Smith, L.U., "The Political Situation in Dominica", Bulletin of Eastern Caribbean Affairs,
Vol. 5, No. 3, Institute of Social and Iconomic Research, Cave Hill, U.W.I.. p. 20.
10. In 1974 John became Premier of Dominica as a result of the resignation of LeBlanc who
was leader of the DLP at the time.
11. Vanguard newspaper, published by the UWP, Castries. June 10th, 1979.
12. West Indies Chronicle, published by the West India Committee, London, August/September,
CONTEMPORARY RADICAL THIRD WORLD REGIMES:
PROSPECTS FOR THEIR SURVIVAL
MILES D. WOLPIN
Two tendencies which first appeared in Latin America during the decade preceding
the Second World War have now become forces for structural transformations throughout
the entire Third World. The first was the emergence of communist-led parties, trade
unions and mass organizations. Even broader appeal in the short turn at least has been
evoked by less far-reaching goals associated with populism and economic nationalism-
what I shall term "radicalism" though in the contemporary era "socialist" is often
utilized by indigenous political elites.
A third related development is the growing attraction of radical socio-economic
policies to professional military officers. Even in the 1930s, left-wing ideas inspired
Latin-American officers who led governments for periods ranging from several months to
a few years in Chile, Bolivia and Mexico. While Alfred Vagts (1959) may have been
justified in discounting such deviations as exceptions to the general rule that officers have
historically functioned as a conservatively inclined social group, the incidence of left-wing
militarism since the 1940s is such as to require revision if not rejection of this
characterization. Thus a mid-1975 classification of non-communist Third World countries
with populations of half a million or more reveals that of the 46 which were military
dominant, sixteen were led by military radicals. Among the civilian dominated regimes
however, only five out of 36 were so led. This can be compared with the situation little
more than a decade earlier when a far smaller proportion of military dominated systems
were led by radical officers while a substantial majority of Third World countries still
boasted civilian supremacy.1
These shifts then imply not merely the subversion of civilian rule by militarists, but
also a pattern of acute political instability with respect to both policy orientations and
of course civil-military relations.2 In the sections which follow, I shall (1) set forth a
number of propositions on the survival prospects of radical regimes; (2) identify the
internal contradictions which account for their exceptional instability; (3) examine
factors which at least temporarily ameliorate the intensity of such contradictions; and
(4) assess the viability of the radical or state capitalist approach as a development
Theses on Radical Survival Prospects
1) Although the average life of radical regimes may not be "nasty or brutish" there is no
doubt of its brevity. As Table 1 indicates, radical elites which were either deposed or
induced to moderate their commitments to structural change in eighteen nations during
the post-Second World War era lasted for an average of less than four years.
Duration of 1975 Third World Radical Regimes
Nation Civilian Dominant Military Dominant Begins
Afghanistan Daoud 2 1973
Algeria Boumedienne 10 1965
Benin Kerekou 3 1972
Burma Ne Win 13 1962
Congo Ngouabi 7 1968
Ethiopia Haile Mariam 1 1974
Guinea Toure 15 1960
Guyana Burnham 1 1974
Iraq Hassan d-Budr 17 1958
Jamaica Manley 3 1972
Libya Qaddafi 6 1969
Malagasy Ratsiraka 2 1973
Mali Traore 7* 1968
Panama Torrijos 7 1968
Peru Alvarado 7 1968
Portugal Col. Vasco des
Santos Goncalves 1 1974
Sri Lanka Bandaranaike 5 1970
Somalia Siad Barre 6 1969
South Yemen 1969
Syria Hafiz al Asaad 5* 1970
Tanzania Nyerere 8 1967
Ave. Duration 6.2 6.4
2) The increase in the proportion of radical military regimes in the more recent period
may help to account for the enhanced survival prospects for Third World radicalism.
Table 2 reveals that military regimes constituted more than two-thirds of this category-
a significant reversal of the earlier situation. Since structural change generally provokes
the threat or resort to violence by groups whose privileges are being reduced, it may well
be that professional managers of violence are more capable than civilians of successfully
confronting conservative opponents-at least in the short run. Decisiveness, combative-
ness, bravery, initiative and abhorrence for disorder are qualities of the so-called "military
mind." These and tne ubiquitous military disdain for politicians-especially those
Duration of Deposed or Moderated Radical Regimes: 1945-74
Civilian Dominant* Military Dominant* Radical Period
Ave. no. yrs.
Ben Bella** 3
Paz Estenssoro 3
Salah Jedid 7
*Leader at the time of overthrow, removal or policy reorientation.
**Exclusion reduces civilian average by .1. These coups may be interpreted as involv-
ing a change in civil military relations rather than development strategy.
Interestingly, the seven military dominant regimes managed to impose radical structural
change for more than two and a half years longer on the average than their civilian
counterparts. This difference does not characterize radical regimes which existed in mid-
1975 as the average duration of both civilian and military governments was slightly above
regarded as hostile to the armed forces-may put the military at an advantage in adopting
the coercive measures necessary to impose structural change.4
3) The survival of a small number of civilian regimes in the contemporary era for
approximately the same length of time as the radical military regimes is accounted for by
civilian leaders who appear to have assimilated at least some of the aforementioned
qualities which characterize the "military mind." Leaders of Guinea and Tanzania, the
two cases which are responsible for the comparable civilian average have exhibited
decisiveness, initiative and some measure of ruthlessness in denying political resources to
anti-"socialist" forces-civilian as well as military-within their polities.
4) Greater longevity for recent civilian and military radical elites hinges upon not only
superior leadership capabilities but also the adoption of policy approximations of "the
Communist military subordination" model and/or the presence of reinforcing environ-
mental conditions. With respect to the former, Nordlinger (1977: 18-19) warns:
The penetration model is exceptionally effective once implemented. But the attempt
to do so is ordinately risky, except under the unusual circumstances of a weak army,
and even then the model can only be applied within a certain type of regime.
Sekou Toure took advantage of the break with France as well as abortive conspiracies to
structure what Kaba (1977:43) depicts as "a sophisticated repressive system" whose
efficacy approaches Leninist "totalitarianism." As for Tanzania, Bailey (1975:40-45)
reveals Nyerere's sagacity in taking advantage of an abortive mutiny not only to disband
the existing two-battalion British trained force but to utilize Chinese assistance in
structuring a new highly politicized and penetrated army.5
From the standpoint of supportively reinforcing environmental conditions, both of
these non-aligned regimes absorbed a substantial influx of Eastern military aid. Algeria
and Iraq-two of the three radical military systems which had survived for at least a
decade-benefited from similar assistance patterns in addition to significant petroleum
foreign exchange earnings for arms purchases. In the Burmese case, despite some Chinese
aid, tight import controls and rapid growth of industrial assistance, a severe foreign
exchange crisis began to develop in the late sixties because of poor rice harvests and
regime incapability of preventing large-scale smuggling of that key export commodity.
Nevertheless the dominant Revolutionary Command and Council benefited from two
exceptional circumstances that enabled it to maintain a high level of internal cohesion.
First, several disunified but persistent minority ethnic and left-wing insurgent movements
created a military threat of sorts through continued low-level attacks upon the armed
forces.6 Second, General Ne Win's hegemonic officer clique had developed considerable
camaraderie as a result of common World War 11 combat experiences. As for the military
regimes that had survived seven years, three of the four appear to have benefited from
some unique reinforcing environmental condition and significantly the fourth, Peru,
succumbed to an intra-military reactionary coup in its seventh year.7 This brings us to
my final thesis.
5) The destiny of radical Third World regimes is to be forced back toward an "open
door" or "monopoly capitalist" system rather than to evolve into a full fledged neo-
Leninist state socialist society. It is clear that with the problematic exceptions of Cuba
and Afghanistan, none of these regimes have evolved, experienced coups or succumbed
to revolutionary mass movements that resulted in the inauguration of a Marxist-Leninist
system of the Soviet, Chinese or Vietnamese type. In the past some of these radical
leaders were coerced into opening the door because of acute foreign exchange crises.
More commonly, they have done this after a reactionary coup replaced the regime with
what the West calls a "moderate" one. This seems to be the fate of nearly all military-led
regimes and most of those under civilian leadership. In a few cases of course radical
civilians are ousted by radical officer cliques. Hence the Algerian and Malian episodes
probably represent no more than an interim extension of state capitalism within the
society in question, for the radical officers just as probably will be eventually supplanted
by a moderate" intra-military clique. While it is undoubtedly true that most rightist
shifts never fully restore the monopoly capitalist or ideological/political status quo ante,
they do create more propitious conditions for socialist revolutionary struggle due to the
patent illegitimacy of their rule at the mass level as well as their tendency to increase
oppression of workers, peasants and often lower middle class sectors. Thus almost
all Marxist-led socialist revolutions have been victorious within systems characterized by
right wing rather than radical regimes. It need not be added that the foregoing refer to
necessary rather than sufficient conditions.8
The Contradictions of Radical Regimes
The altered East-West balance of power and the concomitant rise of new state socialist
systems have obviously played an important part in both the emergence and increased
regime duration for Third World radicals. At the same time it is equally obvious that
despite their own internal contradictions, the stability of state socialist as well as
monopoly capitalist systems is immeasurably greater than that enjoyed by military or
Duration of Deposed or Radicalized "Open Door" Regimes: 1945-74
Nation Civilian Dominant* Military Dominant* Period
Afghanistan King Zahir Shah 28 1945-1973
Bolivia Paz Estenssoro 8** 1956-1964
Gen. Rene Barrientos 6 1964-1970
Brazil Goulart 18 1945-1963
Burma UNu 3 1959-1962
Burundi Ntare V 4** 1962-1966
Massemoa Debat 8
Haile Selassi 29
Reza Pahlavi 6
S. Rhee 13
King Idris 18
P. Tsiranana 13
M. Keita 3
Tafawa Balewa 6**
Suhrawardy 11 **
Ali Shermarke 9
Al Shaabi 2
al Badr 17
Gen. Rojas Puilla 12
Ave. No. Yrs.
*Leader at time of overthrow or policy reorientation.
**Exclusion increases civilian average by .2 and military average by 1.2. Combined
average becomes 12. These coups may be interpreted as involving a change in civil-
military relations rather than development policy.
Notwithstanding one or two close calls, no state socialist system has ever been supplanted
by another social order. Furthermore, both the brevity of radical interregna and the much
greater duration of the deposed capitalist or open door regimes are clearly delineated in
Tables 1 and 3. A similar pattern indicating relatively greater stability-again on the
order of 2 times-for 1975 open door systems appears in Tables 2 and 4. Thus the
average duration of the 1975 monopoly capitalist systems listed in Table 4 is in excess
of fifteen years and they represent approximately 76% of non-communist Third World
systems. Similarly although Tables 1 and 3 reveal that in excess of twice the number of
rightist as leftist regimes have been deposed between 1945 and 1974, the proportion of
the former constituting about 80% of all regimes, was substantially lower.
Duration of 1975 Tlird World Open Door Regimes
China Rep. of
Armando Molina 30
Langer and 21
Haiti Duvalier 18 1957
Honduras Lopez Arellano 30** 1945
India Gandhi 1947
Indonesia Suharto 9 1966
Iran Reza Tablavi 22 1953
Ivory Coast Houphenet-Rolgny 15 1960
Jordan Hussein 29 1946
Kenya Kenyatta 12 1963
Korea S. Park 14 1961
Kuwait al-Salim al-Sabak 1963
Lebanon Franjich 30 1945
Yemen al-Hamdi 7 1968
Zaire Mobutu 15 1960
Zambia Kaunda 11 1964
Ave. No. Yrs. 13.5 17.9
*Executive or Leader in mid-1975
At a superficial level one can discern that the precondition for radical survival simul-
taneously functions as the source of that regime type's exceptional instability. The new
East-West balance of power and radical "success" in playing off major bloc rivals has
provided what Trimberger (1977) calls "international room for manouvre."9 On the
other hand, this has also allowed unprecedented opportunities for competitive interven-
tion which reinforces externally oriented factions. But what at bottom facilitates the
success of such destabilizing intervention are the unintegrated values and incentive
structures of the radical systems themselves. And these in turn contribute to the uneven
and often poor performance of such weakly legitimized regimes in social, economic and
The primary source of radical regime instability is not simply a pronounced gap
between their official goal values and the routines which are supposed to implement
them-a phenomenon ubiquitous even in the more stable systems-but an eclectic
endeavour to graft incompatible values by fiat. In concrete terms, although the move
toward socialistic collectivism and mobilization is conditioned by both their transnational
appeal and pragmatic or opportunistic calculations of particular leader sets, the radical
departures are limited in degree, restricted in scope and more often than not rationalized
in national rather than class terms.1 Ilence while the upper classes are partially
expropriated and therefore antagonized, their residual socio-economic resources provide
a basis for exercising political influence upon inexperienced and often ideologically
confused bureaucratic elites. The simultaneous attraction at the civil-military elite level
of bourgeois amenities ("possessive individualism") and life styles (disdain for manual
labour) makes it difficult for the new "socialists" to serve as an inspiratory model for
mass mobilization. 12 These bourgeois consumerist and petty investment opportunities
facilitate the use of residual or imported economic resources to corrupt regime strata
at all levels. 13 At the same time the upper classes subvert regime programmes by curtail-
ing economic investments, smuggling, capital flight or negotiating for policy moderation
as the price of new investments. Thus while Block (1978:31-32) acknowledges the
distinct interests and autonomy of such states, he stresses the structural constraints
imposed upon "radical" regimes by the need to elicit investment from the financial-
Regardless of their ideology, state managers are dependent upon maintaining adequate
levels of business confidence for a series of different reasons. For one thing, the level
of business confidence will determine the rate of investment and that will determine
the rate of employment. The more unemployment there is, the less political support
the regime is likely to have, in general. So in order to protect themselves from
political dissatisfaction, state managers want to keep business confidence up. Business
confidence is also important because the rate of investment determines the flow of
revenues to the state itself. The amount of freedom that state managers have in a
competitive nation state system to spend money on armaments is also then a function
of the rate of business investment and the level of business confidence. Finally, the
level of business confidence has other international ramifications. In a capitalist world
economy where trade can move capital across national boundaries in response to
market forces, a domestic decline of business confidence will usually generate a
decline in international business confidence. International bankers are then reluctant
to lend to that nation, and other businesspeople act to disinvest, so the consequence is
an international payments crisis. Such a crisis presents state managers with a whole set
of difficult problems that they would sooner avoid by acting in the first place to halt
the decline in business confidence.
Ironically, even when the latter course was opted for as in the cases of Mali, Peru,
Cambodia, Ghana and Burma, the anticipated capital influx seldom results. Despite
growing shortages and the emergence of a general social crisis in the urban sectors, most
radical leaders and key supporters recoil from expropriating and thus eliminating the
residual bourgeois institutional apparatus for the simple reason that in a partial yet
important sense the petty bourgeoisie constitutes a partial reference for all but the most
"doctrinaire" elite elements. The socialism of the latter is deepened not only by
bourgeois intransigence and an ability to assimilate the experience of others, but also by
domestic and external Marxist actors who stress the crucial nature of new mass roles and
the universal adoption of a new ethic at elite levels. In the absence of exceptional and
usually short term trade/aid infusions, the common result is an unstable stalemate yielding
conflicting and abrupt policy changes. Conspiracies, attempted coups, purges, disorders
and eventually a regime displacement by moderate to extreme rightists is the usual
Such regimes commonly experience what Welch (1978) has termed "breakdown"-or
violent displacement often by another military or civilian/military faction. Welch
hypothesizes that the following factors-many of which are present in the case of
political regimes-increase the probability of "breakdown": 1) economic crisis; 2) politi-
cization and intensification of social or ethnic conflict; 3) broad objectives of the regime
rather than limited ones: 4) low military cohesion; 5) efforts to suppress intra-military
dissent; 6) large size of the officer corps as compared to the upper ranks of the civil
service: 7) high commitment to professionalism; 8) long duration in power without
civilianization or a conscious attempt to civilianize. If Welch's conditions are most typical
of radical regimes, there is another "breakdown" paradigm that is even more explicitly
focused upon the "state capitalist" system. Although they devote most attention to
explaining the class dynamics and rightward shift of Syria (1970) and Egypt (1971)
-stressing military defeat/burdens as a major source of these regimes' economic crises,
Farsoun and Carrolls' (1978:152-54) conclusions are in varying degree applicable tosthe
"failure of many 'socialist' experiments in the Third World."
The rise of the 'intermediary strata' leads to elimination of the landlord class and the
big bourgeoisie. But their transformation of the productive forces through state
capital evolves according to the laws of motion of capitalist institutions and the
capitalist market both domestically and in the world system. Even the land reform
leads to the development in the rural areas of a Kulak class which continues to exploit
the peasantry, perhaps more efficiently than the old semi-feudal landlords. Around
the state sector a new bourgeois-contractors, consultants, import and export
specialists, distributors, as well as the expanded military-bureaucratic establishment-
develops. These new bourgeois and parasitic classes are literally the creation of state
capitalism. Their interests and their consciousness are fundamentally capitalist and
contrary to the further development of socialism. As they become economically and
politically influential, they disrupt the socialists' path. As they accumulate capital
surplus they put pressure on the state-capitalist strata for opening the door to private,
including foreign capital. Their voices and ideology become relevant for state-
capitalists especially as the fiscal crises deepen and as the workers-peasants exhibit
restiveness and become a threat. In alliance with the right-wing factions of the ruling
intermediary state-capitalist strata they impel revisions in policy leading to a bloodless
coup against the left-wing faction (i.e. Ali Sabri in Egypt and Syria, respectively)...
Citing Petras (1976:22), they maintain that 'state capitalism, while exhibiting many
of the common external features of socialist development, is in reality the imposition
of new forms on old 'structures' leading to a socio-economic impasse in which the old
'structures' increasingly inform the new forms.' "
The dominance of Western neo-colonial cultural legacies stressing individualistic oppor-
tunism reinforces the "regressive" process which culminates in corruption becoming
rampant, the door being opened internationally "to Western imperialism, drawing away
economically and politically from the strong links to the Eastern and Soviet bloc", and
to restrictions upon "democratic freedoms and worker movements."
Ascendent state-capitalist and its leading strata rally the masses, divert them from a
revolutionary path, and mediate between them and the discredited bourgeoisie.
However, the state-capitalist project triggers its own internal contradictions and is
unable to resolve either the national or class questions. (Again, in the Arab periphery,
the threat of Israel sharpens the failure and crisis of Egyptian and Syrian state
capitalism). The state-capitalist ruling strata, in alliance with a new parasitical
bourgeoisie and the resurgent old bourgeoisie fears displacement or destruction at the
hands of mass-based revolutionary movements. They thus seek salvation via counter-
revolution and integration into imperialism.
This pessimistic assessment is shared by many Marxian analysts including those like
Hobsbawn (1973:190) whose approach is empirical rather than structurally deterministic
or dialectical. He concedes that:
Though the net results of their efforts may be substantial-it is virtually impossible to
think of Egypt, Peru and Turkey as returning to their respective old regimes-they are
unlikely to be as radical as the results of the genuine social revolutions. Army radi-
calism remains a second-best choice; acceptable only because it is better to fill a
political vacuum than to leave it. There is, moreover, at present no evidence to show
that it can establish a permanent political solution.
While this is undoubtedly true, the same can be said of non-radical military regimes. What
tends to be obscured however are some very crucial differences-ones which too many
Marxists and some anti-Marxists have unjustifiably depreciated.
The Radicalism of the Radicals
Because of the enormous difficulties which confront all proponents of structural
change-even radicals who for a few years are buoyed up by an unusually reinforcing
environment, it is relatively easy to dismiss this approach to development as ill-
conceived at best (Girvan, 1978) and crass opportunism (Decalo, 1976) at worst.15 The
fact that radical elites seek power or advancement and value public office really tells us
only that they are "political" actors. It does not explain why some have and more will
opt for radical structural and egalitarian changes.16 Nor does it help us understand the
motives of their supporters. Clearly power can be used by those who aspire for historical
prestige (Lenski, 1966) as well as those seeking to preserve or enhance material privileges.
To risk one's position by challenging Western imperialism and the socio-economic status
quo surely is more hazardous-as the instability data and common sense suggest-than
accepting one's social order. Woddis (1977:79-89) for example while not depreciating the
"vacillations" and autocratic norms of "radical" officers, nevertheless acknowledges from
a Marxist perspective that as far as such regimes are concerned:
Measures of land reforni have been introduced, foreign enterprises nationalised, state
industry built up, educational and other social reforms begun. closer relations
established with socialist countries, and an anti-imperialist position taken up in
external relations... The 'anti-imperialist direction of their policies, in many cases, is
not necessarily an initial motivation of their actions, but any serious attempt to slough
off the inherited backwardness and outworn institutions and practices which predated
the assumption of power by such officers can result in pushing them into anti-
The adoption of such a posture toward vested Western interests of course invites
"destabilization" of such regimes even when non-Marxist. This imperial subversion is
facilitated by the contradictory incentives and class forces discussed earlier as it is by
the growing indebtedness of Third World nations.
More must be taken account of in appraising the significance of these regimes than
their instability. The historical process in which we are living is one of the rise of socialist
values and an erosion of monopoly capitalism. Not only have large portions of the world
opted for state socialism-the only development strategy that is viable from the stand-
point of closing the income and welfare gap with the advanced capitalist societies, but
these radical regimes in a less marked way also reduce mass exploitation, provide greater
welfare benefits and begin the process of transferring major economic resources to social
ownership.17 As mentioned earlier, even when radical elites are deposed, some of these
new innovations are customarily retained and monopoly capitalism as a social system is
therefore weakened.18 The exceptions such as the Pinochet regime which attempted to
dismantle completely the radical institutional panoply generally end by alienating much
of their own constituency, bringing on economic collapse and being deposed. Even in the
Third World countries which are led by "moderates", monopoly capitalism is being
eroded by the selective adoption of state capitalist measures that at least indirectly reduce
the sovereignty of the "market", and deference to transnational corporate decisional
processes. Thus Mauritania nationalized her largest mining company in 1974, Iran has
played a vigorous role on OPEC and Venezuela under the AD has nationalized both iron
ore and petroleum while El Salvador and Nicaragua backed Panama's demand for control
over that country's maj'.r foreign controlled resource.19
Hence from the standpoint of expanding public ownership of resources and the rejec-
tion of monopoly capitalist ideological hegemony, radicals do contribute in a limited but
nevertheless significant way to the long run struggle for socialism. And their concomitant
aspiration for national self-determination has oftentimes been reinforced by Marxist
analyses of dependency and imperialism. Thus the dual forces of socialism and
"nationalism" both integral to radical regimes-have contributed to the slow decline of
monopoly capitalism as a hegemonic world system.20 Despite the high probability that
most will not evolve into state socialist systems, reactionary and conservative coups are
not therefore inevitable. As the monopoly capitalist world system is weakened by its
protagonists and own internal contradictions manifested for example in the spectacular
rise in public indebtedness (Payer, 1974) during the 1970s-the probability of avoiding
reactionary destabilization will slowly improve Nicaragua and Iran are cases in point.
The Cuban Model
Environmental changes in the world balance of forces and superior communist system
performance are but two factors enhancing socialist prospects. Closely related to this
historical ascent in a dialectical manner is the development of an increasingly sophisticated
consciousness by the more left-wing oriented sectors within radical movements and elites.
As J.P. Morray (1962) details in his incisive analysis of the Cuban revolutionary process,
Eidel, Che, and Raul early on recognized the unviability and contradictory character of
pursuing egalitarian and national developmental goals while simultaneously denouncing
communists and limiting the radicalism of the "first" revolution. In recent years
unprecedented emphasis (Valdes, 1976:1-39, Leo Grande, 1978) has been placed upon
institutionalizing a once personalist "second" revolution. The much controverted view of
Cuban "exceptionalism" is a reality, but one destined to guide other socialist oriented
radicals in such countries as Angola, Guinea-Bisseau, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Somalia,
South Yemen and perhaps Afghanistan. Some of these endeavours nevertheless will
undoubtedly be subverted, but others will become state socialist through a combination
of a temporarily reinforcing environment and an exceptional leadership capability that
manages to institutionally subordinate a heretofore or potentially autonomous corporate
military class.21 This in coming decades, the "model" represented by Fidel's revolution-
ary success will assume a less exceptional place in the world historical process. The
developmental failures of Third World monopoly capitalism (i.e. moderate "open door"
approaches) will along with the uneven performance and partial failures of radical regimes
also contribute in a modest way to the enhancement of such socialist prospects though
in most cases violent insurrection or even civil war will be the necessary price for pursuing
a Marxist option.
Radical Survival Prospects
Given the range of policy, environmental and sociological factors discussed in preceding
sections, it follows that prognostication for particular regimes is extremely hazardous.
Nevertheless, in Table 5 we have attempted such an estimate-one that not only takes
account of ethnic and other unique threats for certain elites (Ethiopia, e.g.) but which
also places considerable weight upon the balance of external military training. Those in
the medium survival category are distinguished by a shift in military training toward the
East and at least three of the following:
1) a reinforcing economic and especially foreign trade environment;
2) relatively high elite cohesion and leadership initiative;
3) avoidance of conciliatory approach toward "moderates" and particularly reactionaries;
4) initiation of institutional military subordination policies;
5) absence of major Western backed ethnic, religious and/or ideological insurgencies.
Where most or all of these conditions exist in a !dit:,n to demilitarization of the regime
(when military in origin), reduction of elite socio.,cnomic privileges, structuring of
Marxist-Leninist cadre parties av:dc assoc.a:ed n:oi lizatiu-::. organizations, radical
prospects are estimated to be high.22 Within such societies, the previously essayed
contradictions of state capitalist regimes are being transcended slowly and at the cost of
intense intra-systemic conflict-often muted but occasionally overt. Although any process
of egalitarian structural change will engender interim dislocations and consumer goods
shortages, these will not seriously threaten the stability of a regime simultaneously
engaged in a process of rewarding initiative and participation with previously in-
experienced dignity and status conferral. Thus as upper-class material and institutional
privilege is being eliminated, its resources and those sectors identifying with it as a refer-
ence group or tactical ally are being negated through both mobilizational as well as
On the other hand, as Downton (1973), Hago plan (1974), and Petras (1978) make
clear in a distinct but analogous context, when leadership is unwilling or incapable of
mass commitments, the inevitable interim market disruptions will assume the character
of a general economic crisis gradually isolating the more radical officers and/or civilian
leaders from both less committed elite sectors and mass constituencies as well.
Intensification of cleavages and concomitant polarization then create a propitious
domestic situational environment for externally supported destabilization programmes.
And, as emphasized above, because of both the legacy of Western training as well as the
socio-political characteristics (Nordlinger, 1977) of most officers, these subversive
strategems frequently culminate in reactionary short run outcomes.23
Survival Prospects for Contemporary Radical Regimes
% of 1974AF
As % of AF: .0
% of 1974AF
Canada: W. Ger.
As %ofAF: 1.2
As% ofAF 2.1
Sources: U.S. Dept. of Defense, 1974. U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency,
1976. U.S. C.I.A., 1975: Tables 69 and 70. Stevens, 1976: 145.
1. Thus using a ininimum of five years for a specific policy orientation during the 1960-67
period, only two (Burma, Egypt) of nineteen military dominant regimes could be classified as
radical while forty-two regimes were civilian dominant. The remaining seventeen military
dominant systems were: Argentina; Colombia; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras;
Korea-S; Nicaragua; Pakistan; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Sudan; Taiwan; Turkey; Venezuela; and
Zaire. The large civilian majority was accounted for by: Afghanistan; Burundi; Cambodia;
Cameroon; Central African Republic; Ceylon; Chad: Chile: Costa Rica; Ethiopia; Gabon;
Ghana: Haiti; India; Indonesia: Iran; Ivory Coast; Jamaica: Jordan; Kuwait: Lebanon: Liberia;
Libya: Malaysia; Mali: Mexico: Morocco: Niger: Nigeria; Phillippines: Portugal: Rwanda: Saudi;
Arabia: Senegal: Sierra Leone: Somalia: Tanzania; Trinidad: Tunisia: Uganda: Upper Volta: and
Zaire. Several have been excluded because of war and foreign intervention. Military dominance
implies control of armed forces commanders over the process of selecting the civil Executive.
2. Similarly, Nordlinger (1977:6) after citing a number of studies for different Third World
regions concludes that "it turns out that the military have intervened in approximately two-
thirds of the more than one hundred non-Western states since 1945."
3. As used here the term "development" refers to: 1) the goal of national political control over
societal resources; 2) industrialization and rapid economic growth; 3) increased mass social
welfare and equality. For a lucid discussion of these three components as the basis for
Egyptian state capitalism ("socialism") under Nasser's leadership, see: Haddad (1973:54-68).
4. The relatively greater longevity of radical military regimes may also be a function of socializa-
tion into rigid hierarchical norms of obedience, the fact that state capitalist developmentalism
constitutes a new "mission" where external security threats are minimal, and the corporate
class consciousness occasioned by directed socialization and a distinctive martial life style. In
such circumstances it may be decidedly more difficult for reactionary plotters to develop
a cohesive faction than when radical changes are imposed by civilian politicians who are hot
only the object of martial disdain but also commonly endeavour to institutionally subordinate
the armed forces by creating paramilitary forces, introducing party organization, retiring
opponents, promoting supporters, etc.
5. Western military aid was diversified (Israel, Canada, Federal Republic of Germany) and
gradually reduced during the 1960s as were Soviet and GDR programmes on Zanzibar.
Although the Chinese became the pre-eminent donor between 1965 and 1970, new Canadian
offers were accepted in 1973.
6. Burma illustrates the importance of coming to terms with major indigenous mass based
Marxist organizations. The anti-communism of the regime elite doomed efforts to extend social
ownership into rural areas and ultimately led to its erosion in the urban sector by denying
essential mobilizational resources to the "radical" elite. Thus according to recent assessments
(Silverstein, 1977; Tun, 1978:28) the meagre economic performance has been accompanied by
repeated exposures of regime corruption, administrative inefficiency and even an overt attempt
by junior officers to topple the regime. Major industries have thus far escaped denationalization
and to its credit the government has contained insurgent elements.
7. Both the Congo and Mali were offered and accepted primarily Eastern economic and military
assistance during this period, while Panama's Torrijos easily mobilized mass support through
skilful development of a cluster of issues related to the Canal Zone. Few if any of the latter's
military officers in the National Guard were recruited from Panama's upper class.
8. With respect to the exceptional costs imposed by such regimes upon the masses and the paucity
of socio-economic benefits, see Wolpin (1977). Yet as Chorley (1971) and Russell (1974)
emphasize, in the absence of demoralization or substantial intra-military disunity, revolu-
tionaries are unlikely to carry the day. More ominously, Hibbs (1973) found that heightened
repression is strongly associated with a decline in internal war though not collective protest
in subsequent years. The problem it seems is the inability of revolutionary organizations to
remain viable while broadening mass constituencies under such conditions.
9. One of the most carefully balanced and perspicacious analyses of this global phenomenon is
provided by Horowitz (1969). Thus, for example, Soviet military aid to Third World countries
has risen markedly over the past two decades: $1.3 billion in 1955-60; $2.8 in 1961-1965;
$2.8 in 1966-1970; and $5.2 in 1971-1974 (U.S. Congress, 1977:69).
10. Cottam (1973).
11. The apparent appropriateness and relevance of state capitalist innovations to opportunist short
run calculations (Girvan, 1976) explains the widespread and growing appeal of this develop-
mental strategy. Our critique centers on the reactive frame of reference of decision-makers
who consequently limit the scope of radical change. Hence what appears extreme or
"doctrinaire" within that framework may be considerably more pragmatic from the standpoint
of avoiding a collapse or destabilization of the experiment. Leaders whose socialization
inhibits the adoption of extreme socio-economic and political measures will lack the anticipa-
tory initiative and ruthlessness essential for regime stabilization. Quite a few civilians who
appear in Table I fit this description.
12. Hence the contradictory incentive structure at elite levels inhibits the internalization of new
norms at the mass level thus accounting for the ubiquitous failure of "mass" parties to evoke
enthusiasm, commitment, sacrifice, etc. The qualitative dimensions of mass participation then
leave much to be desired, and mass parties often function as little more than parallel
administrative apparatuses or paper organizations.
13. While state socialist systems are devoid of neither corruption nor elite consumerism, the
qualitative emphasis (Arthur, 1977:18-28) is upon rewards for production achievements, and
there are virtually no potentially accumulative investment opportunities or significant property
owning sectors to bribe officials on a large scale. Thus many of the sources on contemporary
radical regimes listed at the end of this work contain references to allegations or disclosures of
corrupt activities within many of the civilian and military radical elites. Some like the Siad
Barre regime in Somalia appear decidedly less afflicted than others. The consequences of
corruption depend not only upon its prevalence but also may be influenced by alterations in
the external environment, e.g. a sharp rise in petroleum prices for exporters. In general,
however, corruption would appear dysfunctional for the promotion of developmental
collectivist goals by radical regimes because it: 1) engenders pressures to restrict the growth of
social ownership of the means of production; 2) contributes to the failure of planning
objectives; 3) deprives the regime of investible surplus domestically and foreign exchange for the
importation of industrial equipment or basic mass necessities; 4) makes it far more difficult to
break down the barriers between mental and physical labour in order to create an example
likely to evoke mass sacrifice and initiative; 5) diminishes the legitimacy of such regimes.
14. Put differently, the "primary contradiction" of antagonistic incentives is occasioned by what
might be called a transitional or mixed model of production-one which combines rather than
harmonizes the class accumulative dimension of monopoly capitalism with the developmentally
oriented collectivistic accumulation of state socialist systems. This contributes to our under-
standing of a broad range of "secondary contradictions" such as: 1) mildly sanctioned yet
vehemently denounced official peculation; 2) an inability to fully employ both highly trained
and unskilled labour despite a commitment to maximize economic growth; 3) paternalistic
authoritarianism and elitism vs commitments to promoting mass initiative and participation;
4) aspirations for national self-reliance accompanied by increased dependence upon external
aid and project engineering; 5) dedication to promoting national sovereignty while maintaining
systemic openness to competing Eastern and Western destabilization efforts; 6) regime self-
designations as socialist or "popular" with continued middle class bias in recruiting party and
bureaucratic elites. As used here the term "contradictions" refers to antiethical tendencies or
policy incoherence reflecting conflicting leadership goals.
15. The "personal power" thesis was elaborated more than a decade ago with respect to Castro by
Draper (1965). More recently, Decalo (1976:24) cogently argues its overriding importance to
understanding political conflict in Benin and Congo, as well as in non-"radical" states as
Togo and Uganda. The primary motives are personal, factional or corporate aggrandizement, or
defense in a settling of material scarcity while consequential fragmentation of army discipline
is "indirectly and secondarily along ethnic, class or ideological lines. "... In the final
analysis, however, class and ideology seem deprived of even their secondary importance for ile
author denies (1976:26-7) "there is much evidence beyond rhetoric and pious declarations of
sincere desire by most of the military regimes in tropical Africa to bring about fundamental
social change or a rearray in the structure of power within African states. This is true of the
so-called 'radical' military juntas...." Of some note is a nearly identical conclusion by the
African Marxist Issa Shivji (1976) with respect to Tanzania.
16. An attempt to explain this attraction by employing Marx's materialist conception of history
appears in Wolpin (1978). Nordlinger (1977:66), for example, takes pains to stress that
"personal interests are more or less significant in explaining any kind of elite behavior; there is
no reason to suppose that they are especially salient in accounting for the interventionalist
behavior what is most important is not the various personal interests themselves, but the
extent to which they coincide with, and their behavioral expression is facilitated by, other,
more general factors. With regard to military coups, there is usually a close parallel between
individual concerns and corporate interests...."
17. In the following paragraphs, some of the relevant socio-economic measures by several con-
temporary state capitalist systems are listed. Implementation of course leaves much to be
desired in certain countries which are in the early stages of improving administrative and
Tanzania: Flmphasis during the past decade has been upon investments promoting rural
collectivization and modernization. Nationalization has encompassed major industries, banks,
insurance companies, wholesale trade, some retailing activities and large rental buildings.
Limited resources available for urban renewal have been used foi slum eradication and
construction of homes primarily for low-income persons. Since the early 1970s, rents for
public employees have been mildly progressive with respect to different income levels. "In
Tanzania the bulk of governmental activity and development funds for the urban areas are
intended to benefit 'workers' or 'lox.er-income groups'; at the same time, care is taken that
cooperative, socialist activities are promoted, and that the gap between urban workers and
rural peasants does not widen." (Stren, 1975).
Mali: Notwithstanding the denationalization of retail trade in 1968, elements within the
military leadership who sought to sell or shut down 27 state enterprises were defeated-
although they did manage to force the dismissal of 1/3 of the employees. Their leader, Yoro
Diakitc, was ousted from the government even though he had played a major role in over-
throwing Kelta in 1968. After conspiring against Moussa Traore, he was prosecuted and
imprisoned. (Bennett, 1975).
Guinea: The early success of the PDG has been attributed to "both ...the boldness of its
social programme-its appeal to workers, women, castes, and poor people, notably ... its
opposition to the traditional oligarchy-and also ... (to) Sekon Tonre's organizational
capacities." Nationalization embraced most major economic, financial and commercial enter-
prises. Several state/foreign partnership agreements were entered into for extractive and
industrial investments. People's stores were established in rural areas. (Kaba, 1977).
Libya: "cradle-to-grIave welfare state". "assembly-line Schools \were ordered by ithe score" as
free universal education at all levels was introduced." "New parks were being opened, new
sports areas built for boys and girls alike" as "(t)lie position of women had changed greatly,
largely for tie better." "In and around the chief cities and towns rose block after block of new
housing, much ol it not quile finished with its future occupants camped nearby in shanly-
towns." "(a) vast boom in middle and lower income housing." Free medical care and clinics
were extended to many villages. Agricultural productivity was a weak spot as peasants migrated
to urban areas. Yet Libyans "were eating better than ever and farm wages were high. Individual
farms were being built and farm communes organized: state owned factories dotted the land-
scape. Tractors and farm machinery were plentiful." Considerable "progress was being made in
finding underground water, bringing paved roads and electricity to the countryside, planting
miles of windbreaks, and setting out thousands of fruit trees." And to avoid early depletion
of petroleum resources, production was limited in this vital nationalized industry. (Sanger,
Congo: Following an abortive coup attempt in early 1972, the Congolese Workers' Party was
completely purged, a new Constitution was introduced and ratified in 1973, and utilizing
revenues from nationalized oil companies a broad range of measures was enacted in 1974
and 1975. Minimum wages were increased by 80% while price freezes were imposed upon
many staples. Scholarships for education were limited to the needy. Rising oil revenues were
"channeled into the ailing and quasi-bankrupt state enterprises, and an ambitious three-year
development plan. The oil bonanza also allowed the regime to reduce the national debt and to
capitulate to unionist strikes for across-the-board salary increases that had previously been
opposed (due to an official austerity policy). Other measures were announced in March
nationalizing all private insurance companies and giving the state a majority holding in all
foreign banks. At the same time the regime declared that it would not allow any new private
investment projects unless state funds were also involved in the form of joint companies."
Benin: A series of nationalizations were carried out in 1974 and 1975 while newly constituted
revolutionary committees "to spearheaded societal transformation" in a Marxist-Leninist direc-
tion began to function. (Decalo, 1976:81-2).
Panama: The implications of Panama's Canal Zone demands are highlighted by Torrijos'
activities after he consolidated his position at the end of 1969. A Labor Code was introduced in
1972 which "defines the rights of employees, protects employees from being discharged
without just cause established by law, provides for a minimum wage and ... requires employers
to pay the equivalent of one month's salary ... to all employees as a yearly bonus, recognizes
the right of union organization as well as the right to strike, and provides for mandatory social
security coverage of all occupational risks, including illness, accident, maternity, and old age
pension for all workers of the state and private enterprise...." "The Education Security Tax
enacted in 1972 was a special two percent tax on all wages that was earmarked to augment
operating budgets of rural farm schools, to provide loans and scholarships for needy students,
and to finance the costs of.non-formal literacy and adult training programs in the rural areas."
The Housing Decree of 1973 "established rent ceilings in urban areas, provided incentives for
low cost housing construction, required all wage earners to deposit'one third of (their extra
month's bonus) in a special Ministry of Housing account ... to be used to finance low cost
housing construction projects, established safety standards for urban dwellings, and prohibited
landlords from transferring the costs of garbage disposal to their tenants." After personal and
corporate income taxes had been consolidated and increased in 1970, loopholes were closed in
1974 while penalties and interest charges were to be added to tax arrears. Further, "the
method of urban property valuation was changed so that the highest value among market price,
property registry price, and cadastral value would be applied." Also in 1974 banana export
taxes were raised as Panama joined the Union of Banana Exporting Countries which subse-
quently constituted the Multinational Banana Marketing Enterprise. Reacting to an investment
strike during this period, the Labor Code was slightly weakened in early 1977. Yet at the same
time prices u. some basic foods (sugar, oil, beans, lentils) were reduced as were salaries of civil
servants grossing more than $750 per month. (Bassford, 1975; Burns, 1977; Latin America,
1977:15-32; Nicasio, 1977:16).
Somalia: Siad Barre sharply reduced the incidence of several forms of bureaucratic corruption
and leveled down the highest salaries including his own which was limited to $250 per month.
Clan favoritism in appointments to official positions was curtailed through the introduction of
Somali as the national language. This was also viewed as the most expeditious means of tackling
the 90% illiteracy rate. Hence in 1972, secondary schools were closed and the president called
upon "all students (to) go out to the nomads to teach them to read and write. This programme
met with some success and only minimal grumbling; indeed; when the drought became
unmanageable by 1975, many students stayed out in the bush helping the Government to
administer relief." The previously ignored nomads-constituting 86% of the population-were
benefited in related and other ways. Thus primary school educational enrollments rose 300%
in the early 1970s, no price controls were placed upon animal products during the drought,
wells were driven along new highways and thousands of destitute nomads accepted the
opportunity to join new agricultural settlements. "All in all ... it looks as if the Government
has succeeded in reducing the rural-urban differential." This reflects a "major change in invest-
ment strategy" after 1970 so that in "the 1971-3 period ... the rural sector received two and a
half times as much development money as the urban sector." These funds included Sovie, aid
for a nationally owned meat factory and fishing industry and major efforts in the area of
forestry, agriculture, animal husbandry and irrigation. In urban areas rents and prices on
consumer necessities have been controlled while credit has been regulated by the nationaliza-
tion of banking. Street beggars and the like have been removed to work on infrastructural
projects while by the mid-1970s women were first afforded equal rights under the law.
Iraq: Even before the Baath came to power in 1963, the Kassem regime had confiscated and
redistributed large rural estates, contracted in 1959 with the Soviet Union for the construction
of 11 nationally owned factories, and denied the Iraq Petroleum Company much of its
concession land. "Since 1958 the company has had to gradually surrender more and more of its
revenue to the government. ... During the 1960s oil companies were progressively nationalized
by increasing the government's share steadily until by June 1, 1969, the process was complete."
As early as 1964 "the government of Abdul Salem Aref (who with the Baath had overthrown
Kassem in 1963 and toppled the Baath nine months later) nationalized all firms in which it
owned 25 percent or more of the stock and formed a General Industrial Organization to
manage them." A year earlier, however, the Baath had -"conducted a series of unplanned
nationalizations and reforms." These augmented the measures adopted by Gamal Abdul-Nasser
in Syria and Abdul-Karim Kassem in Iraq. Since 1963 considerable emphasis has been placed
upon establishing cooperatives and increasingly collectives or state farms. Although the
strategy was to concentrate amenities upon collectives which would serve as models for area
peasants, progress has been slow. On the other hand, since "1968 an intensive program has
been effectuatedd) to increase the quantity and quality of social services. According to govern-
ment statistics, expenditures on medical services has increased 40 percent since 1968. The ratio
of doctors to population has improved from 1:4/200 (1972) to 1:3/200. Seventy percent of
the population is now covered by free health care services. The number of beds in hospitals
also increased from 12,300 beds in 1968 to 20,322 in 1973, an increase of 8,000 beds. The
number of medical assistants increased by 57.8 percent by 1972." In addition, trade union
organizing has been encouraged. (Ismael, 1975).
18. Most commonly a much enlarged state economic enterprise sector is retained. Often newly
created cooperatives and even welfare benefits for modern sector employees are also retained.
This seems to be the case in such countries as Ghana, Mali, Argentina. Brazil, Indonesia, Sudan,
Egypt, Uganda, and Portugal.
19. In the 1960-1974 period alone, a U.N. (1974) report on nationalizations and takeovers
"recorded 875 cases in 62 countries of the world-predominantly in the underdeveloped areas.
Africa accounted for 340 of them and "led in all categories of industry except petroleum-that
is, in instances of nationalization of mining, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, public utilities,
banking and insurance." Anticipating the future, a serious student of this trend (Rood, 1976:
446-7) concludes his analysis with the following prediction: "(the) pattern of takeovers during
the last decade in black Africa, as well as that in the rest of the world, suggests very strongly
that they believe it will serve their own interests. The only limitations will be practical ones ...
the growing strength of the natural resource blocs such as O.P.E.C., the spread of socialism, and
the increased acceptance of nationalization vastly improve the bargaining position of the
nationalizing countries." Cf. Girvan (1978).
20. This is reflected not only by the wider appeal of state capitalism and non-alignment in the
Third World during the past two decades, but also in the growing ability of state socialist
systems to compete with aid offers and the rising share of world territory and economic output
accounted for by centrally planned economies. As Barnet and Muller (1974) take pains to
stress, however, the technological information and other resources of the transnational
corporation continue to confer substantial advantages over opponents, as do the instru-
mentalities described in the sources listed below in note 23.
21. The crucial import of institutional subordination arises from history of deposed radical regimes.
Virtually all were ousted by the armed forces or more often sectors thereof. Wherecivilian
groups participated in a number of these subversive efforts, none succeeded without active
military participation. In most instances, civilian roles were secondary or even non-existent.
22. Objective or institutional military subordination can be distinguished from subjective
"subordination." The latter implies reciprocity between civilians who respect military
autonomy in return for military willingness to recognize the authority of civilians in non-
military policy areas. This model has been vitiated for steadily rising number of Third World
countries-especially those governed by reformist and radical elites. Hence-despite admittedly
hazardous implementation obstacles-dedicated radicals have no choice but to attempt to
employ at least some approximation of a model which has proved viable for regimes
characterized by successful directed social change, i.e. the state socialist systems. This approach
deprives military professionals of the resources and autonomy necessary to coerce civilians.
The following, or functional equivalents thereof, must govern civil-military relations: 1) intra-
military political education and party organization; 2) a specially trained Executive guard force
and/or people's militia; 3) increased external training from state socialist systems; 4) highly
trained security police detachments and informant networks within the armed forces; 5) use of
less politically conscious army units in conjunction with civilian organizations for infrastructural
and other projects; 6) promotion of line officers who exhibit both professional expertise and
socialist dedication. What this does is to reduce the officer corps to a dependent elite status
rendering it difficult if not impossible for its ruling class potential to be realized. The term
class as here used is meant to refer to an identifiable group with a distinctive lifestyle and sub-
stantially higher levels of interaction internally than with outgroups.
23. Their success in the 1970s and 1980s also has been enhanced by a considerable reservoir and
interchange of coup experience. Thus by the beginning of the period a detailed (Luttwak,
1969) tactical handbook for plotters was in wide circulation. Careful analysis by leftists might
enable them to anticipate and even tactically neutralize spme conspiracies in the "low"
and especially "medium" survival categories. This would be equally useful for more structural
assessments such as that by Welch (1977:82-98) who concludes that the impact of coup
conspiracies depends upon: 1) the extent of popular disenchantment with the Government;
2) the salience of social values condoning violence:'3) the ability to organize resistance to the
incumbent Government: and 4) the conspirators' access to the means of training, equipping and
directing combatants. And Thompson (1976:263) has found that coups launched by senior
headquarters' officers were far more likely to be successful than those launched by junior
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