Grenadians are voting in a general election to choose a new government on Tuesday with political observers saying the race could be a tight affair between the governing New National Party (NNP), under longstanding leader Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by Nazim Burke.
Voters were seen in long lines at some of the 264 polling stations across the country with the Parliamentary Electoral Office (PEO) indicating that it is well prepared for the occasion.
The PEO said 78,222 people are eligible to cast ballots.
There are 45 candidates representing the seven political parties.
There are three independent candidates.
The PEO said that counting of the ballots would begin soon after the polls close at 5.00 pm local time.
The Grenada election is being held on the anniversary of the Maurice Bishop led coup that ousted unpopular government of Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy in 1979.
Prime Minister Bishop was himself deposed and assasinated four years later during a bloody split in his New Jewel Movement.
Order was restored in the country shortly after when US marines led a military invasion to oust the military junta that had replaced Bishop.
The NNP has become entrenched in post–revolutionary Grenada, having won its first election in 1984 – the first after the demise of the Revolution — with 14 of the 15 seats.
Six years later, on March 13, 1990, it lost to an alliance of the NDC and The National Party, but bounced back in 1995, winning 8 of the 15 seats.
That started a glorious run for the NNP, which won all 15 seats in the next general election in 1999.
It won an unprecedented third consecutive term four years later, but the writing was on the wall this time, losing seven of the 15 parliamentary seats to eke out an 8-7 victory.
Finally, the NDC was able to break the NNP’s winning streak in 2008, taking 11 of the 15 seats to form the new government.
The NNP’s days in the political wilderness were not fated to last very long however as, at the very next opportunity – 2013 – it came roaring back, once again winning all 15 seats.
It has taken that overwhelming advantage into this latest contest, seeking once again to keep its hold on power in the “Spice Island”.