By Loshaun Dixon
The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is voting Friday (June 5) with the Team Unity coalition led by Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris seeking a second term in office, while the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) led by former Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas will be seeking a return to Church Street.
Twenty-three candidates from five parties and one independent were nominated last week Wednesday to contest tomorrow’s poll.
Some key battles will likely emerge across the constituencies, some that may decide the election. The magic number to form the government is six.
Team Unity will be better poised having a candidate compete in all 11 constituencies. The SKNLP despite having nominated the most candidates by any singular party are only competing in the eight constituencies in St. Kitts and the possibility remains they may need a coalition with the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) to form a government. Neither has indicated intentions to join forces during this campaign but have done so in the recent past.
In Constituency 1 incumbent Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) and Team Unity will face off against SKNLP’s Dr. Geoffrey Hanley. In 2015 Liburd defeated then Deputy Prime Minister Asim Martin by a mere four votes to win a key seat for Team Unity.
Liburd last time out was able to capture 1,731 votes over Martin’s 1,727. However, questions have emerged over Hanley’s eligibility after it was believed he was a US Citizen. He has claimed to have renounced that citizenship.
In Constituency 2 there will be a rematch of 2015 where SKNLP incumbent Marcella Liburd will try to stave off a strong challenge by Jonel Powell of PAM. Liburd won in 2015 by 98 votes, capturing 1,758 votes to Powell’s 1660. Powell has expressed confidence in his ability to flip the seat.
In Constituency 3 SKNLP’s Konris Maynard will do battle against Akilah Byron-Nisbett of the People’s Labour Party (PLP) and Team Unity. Both Maynard and Byron-Nisbett served in the last National Assembly where Maynard represented the constituency and Byron-Nisbett served as Deputy Speaker.
In 2015 Maynard defeated Sam Condor formerly of the SKNLP and who had served that constituency 25 years prior to his defeat. In 2015 Maynard received 1,348 votes to Condor’s 1,076.
In 2015 Constituency 4 provided the second-closest margin of victory. Back then Lindsay Grant of PAM defeated Glen Phillips of the SKNLP by 36 votes. This time around he faces Steve Wrensford of the SKNLP and Jason Thomas an independent candidate. In 2015 Grant secured 1,252 votes to Phillips’ 1,216
Constituency 5 features Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of PAM Shawn Richards against SKNLP’s newcomer Kenneth Douglas. Richards is a three-term incumbent of that seat who first got elected in 2004. Richards was able to secure 1,245 votes to then SKNLP candidate Norgen Wilson’s 884.
In Constituency 6 SKNLP Leader Dr. Douglas will be aiming for another term in the constituency he has represented for more than three decades. This time around he will face rookie Kevin ‘Ninky’ Williams who will be running under the banner of PLP.
Douglas however had to vacate his seat in the Parliament after the Dominica passport case. He secured 1,969 votes in 2015 versus Vernon Connor who only secured 200.
Incumbent Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris of PLP features in Constituency 7 where he faces debutant Leon Natta-Nelson. Dr. Harris had been representing this constituency since 1993 and despite changing political parties in 2015 was able to secure a big victory. Dr. Harris in 2015 won by a margin of 1,647 to 867 over SKNLP Vance Gilbert.
Constituency eight features the largest voting population with 6,948 registered voters. It will feature a 2015 rematch between two-term incumbent Eugene Hamilton of PAM and SKNLP Dr. Terrance Drew. In 2015, Hamilton won by a margin of 236 votes. He managed to total 2,364 votes over Dr. Drew’s 2,128