“All I have to tell you is that I’m in a far better place than the other fellas. I wouldn’t tell you where I am,” he told reporters after indicating that the poll was conducted in July and involved 963 people in12 constituencies.
The speculations of a snap election have come amidst repeated court rulings in favour of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in the two election petitions challenging the results of the December 2015 general elections in two constituencies.
The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) won the elections by an 8-7 margin for a fourth consecutive term in office and the High Court is expected to hear next month an application by lawyers for the NDP to inspect the 2015 election documents, including the ballot boxes.
It is the first poll that the ULP is known to have conducted since Godwin Friday became NDP president and Opposition Leader replacing Arnhim Eustace, who held both positions for nearly 16 years.
He said the new figures were “not really” a shift from what other polls have found.
“What I notice with polls, outside of an election season, the number which they have for leadership, though significant, is lower than what they would normally put as they get closer to an election.”
Asked if with this poll there is an election on the horizon, Gonsalves said, ‘No, no, no, no, no.”
Gonsalves told reporters that the ULP had asked CADRES to conduct the poll on several issues including health, politics, employment, education, housing, water and electricity.
He said six per cent of the population had responded to the health concerns adding “we have to take regard of that”.
He made the remark in the context of added focus here on health care following the death of 75-year-old social and political activist, Oscar Allen.
Allen died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital two weeks after warning in a letter to hospital officials that the postponement, twice, of an urgent surgery to his large intestines could have “fatal consequences”.
Gonsalves said that the poll showed that persons are also concerned about jobs and crime.
“In fact, our success at so many of these things, like health, youth concerns, education, housing, water and electricity, garbage collection, these numbers recede as matters of greatest concern.”
When respondents were asked about the constituency issue of greatest concern, job and crime rose to 10 per cent and healthcare to eight per cent, said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance and National Security.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the issues most likely to influence a person’s vote are employment, cost of living, and crime.
“Because people want responsible leadership, which is what I am providing here… I am not being demagogue on the issue of health. I am saying what are the issues, where we are strong, where we have some weaknesses, and people must not go about drawing some conclusions which cannot be drawn on the facts.”
He said the pollsters have also found that a majority of Vincentians now support either full or partial decriminalisation of marijuana, adding this is “an improvement of nine per cent in terms of complete” decriminalisation, but did not give the comparative figures.
“So that I guess that with the discussions that are going on – still there is a significant number of people who’re opposed to it: 35 per cent, for instance.
“I have to test what is happening on a number of issues. I am a scientific person,” Gonsalves told reporters.
- Countries: St_Vincent_Grenadines