Prime Minister Allen Chastanet cast his ballot on Monday urging St. Lucians to go and vote while exercising caution due to the protocols put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Chastanet, who is seeking a second consecutive term in office, is leading his United Workers Party (UWP) into the elections that political observers here say is a tight affair and could result in the possible formation of a coalition government.
His strongest challenge is coming from the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP), which has nominated candidates for 15 of the 17 constituencies.
“Very excited just got to vote and I see people coming out in record numbers and I will continue to say please exercise patience because of COVID new protocols have been put in place, nobody wants to disenfranchise you,” he said after casting his ballot in the Gros-Islet constituency, north of here.
“It is going to take a little bit longer, be patient and let’s make sure everybody can vote. Continue to be safe,” Chastanet said in a statement posted on his Facebook page after voting.
However the SLP leader, Phillip J. Pierre said he was “very confident” of victory at the polls, even as he lamented the slow pace of voting, which he did not attribute to the early morning rains.
“Today is the important day. Today is when the people are going to decide what’s happening. I feel confident,’ he said, noting that there has been so far ‘a heavy turnout, but the process is slow.
“I think they could try to hasten the process, it is really slow, and people are getting very nervous and very anxious. They have been a few hiccups but nothing of any great concern, “Pierre told MBC Television.
“But all I want to tell St. Lucians we have a chance today to change the government. We have a chance today to bring good governance to St. Lucia. That’s your chance…be patient, go to vote, we will not have that chance again for the next five years,” he added.
The polling stations are due to close at 6 p.m. (local time) and the country should begin receiving the results of the polls within two hours after closure.
In the last general election, the UWP won 11 of the 17 seats. The party is the only one contesting all seats. The newly formed Green National Party (GNP) is contesting eight seats and there are a handful of independent candidates including former prime minister Stephenson King, who for nearly three decades had been the standard bearer of the UWP in the Castries North constituency.
King is contesting that seat against Janine Giraudy-McIntyre, the former president of the Senate and the daughter of the late Henry Giraudy, one of the founding members of the UWP.