Barbados Election 2008 Produces a New Government
Barbadians voted to change their government in a hard-fought general election January 15th, 2008. After 15 years in the political wilderness, the opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP), led by lawyer David Thompson, turned the tables on Owen Arthur’s Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
At the close of preliminary counting 20 of the 30 parliamentary seats had gone to the DLP and nine to the BLP, with one disputed riding in the parish of St. Andrew still the subject of a recount.
Several former key ministers lost their seats, among them Clyde Mascoll and Joseph Atherley from the Prime Minister’s office, Energy Minister Elizabeth Thompson, Tourism Minister Noel Lynch, Health Minister Jerome Walcott, Housing Minister Reginald Farley and Kerrie Symmonds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Outgoing Prime Minister Arthur conceded defeat around midnight, saying “the people of Barbados have spoken” and his party respected “their right to choose”.
The University of the West Indies-trained economist, who has been Prime Minister for 14 years, identified the impact of the DLP’s “time for change” campaign as largely responsible for the reaction of the electorate. In the circumstances, he said “the desire for change was natural”.
Mr Arthur said his Barbados Labour Party will now “evaluate the circumstances that led to the defeat” and discuss the leadership of the party going forward.
Barbados Prime Minister-elect Thompson said on television that he and his new team were ready to “roll up our shirt sleeves and start to work”.
He said tackling the rising cost of living, improving health care at the main hospital and providing adequate and more afforable housing will be high on his agenda as the DLP takes over the reins of government.
Mr Thompson identified fellow lawyer and successful DLP election candidate, Freundel Stuart, as his proposed Attorney General said he expected to have a new cabinet named by the weekend.
An opinion poll published last Friday by the local Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) had predicted that the DLP would thwart the BLP’s attempt at winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive five-year term in office.
The poll results showed there would be a near 10 per cent swing away from the BLP. Based on the election results, political commentators say the swing may have been even higher than anticipated, as Barbados voted en masse for a change of government.
In the last Barbados election in 2003, the BLP won 24 seats to the DLP’s six.
January 16th, 2008