NewsFor Whom the Bells Toll in Barbados!

St. Lucia News OnlineJuly 4, 202212925 min


Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s decision to call a snap General Election on January 19, 2022, is surprising and understandable — surprising that the announcement was made only in the final week of 2021, and understandable as she seeks to secure a new mandate, now Barbados is a Republic.

Her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won all 30 seats in the last General Elections and has since been riding a wave of regional and international popularity, with everything apparently going well on the world stage for the lady leader of one of the smallest countries.

In two-party Barbados, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and the opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) have had equal-sized footprints since independence in 1966.

BLP’s supporters are already claiming they’ve caught the DLP off guard; however, the DLP, which is also fielding a woman as its candidate for Prime Minister, has announced its election slate before the ruling party.

The BLP has been campaigning on some significant accomplishments: the recent removal of Lord Nelson’s statue in Bridgetown and the removal of the Queen of England as the island’s Head of State.

But if Caribbean polls are more about bread-and-butter issues than constitutional or political advancement, Barbados is in for its most-fiercely-fought poll since statehood. Life in Barbados has become very challenging, with rising food prices, job cuts and the social fall-out from Covid-19.

Barbadian voters will therefore have – in less than three weeks – an opportunity to endorse or reject Ms. Mottley and her government’s social and economic performance to date.

The incumbent BLP is expected to be successful at the next general elections but with a reduced majority. While a very popular leader on the international stage, Mia Motley has been described by some at home as autocratic, uncompromising and intolerant of internal criticism.

There’s a view among some in Barbados that PM Mottley called the snap election not as much because she feels she’ll win but to give sufficient time to see through an IMF programme scheduled for early this year, in time for the next general elections, which will be constitutionally due in 2027.

There were, also, rumors in mid-2021 of internal unrest within the BLP, including an alleged growing distance between men and women in the PM’s cabinet, as well as at least one MP having allegedly lost a ministerial post for being too loud in his criticism. PM Mottley is known to move quickly to out fires and is said to have admirably kept her indoor critics at bay.

Leveraging her newly acquired heightened, international profile, an impending IMF programme and some inhouse unrest may well have been deciding factors in Mia Mottley’s call for a snap general election.

Not many would be betting on political climate change, when “Bajans” go to the polls on the third Wednesday in the new year. But just as PM Mottley has demonstrated a staid penchant to just be different, so too she’s not one to be underestimated.

The bells are starting to toll in Bridgetown, but not yet loud enough to know for sure for whom.

St. Lucia News Online

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