Barbadian voters kept with tradition and provided the incumbent party with a second consecutive term in power following a nerve jangling general elections here on Thursday. According to the preliminary results, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) won 16 of the 30 seats in the elections with the remainder going to the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP). In the 2008 general election, the DLP won 20 seats. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in thanking supporters for the narrow victory, said “we are not here tonight celebrating the victory because of any sponsorship or support from the …fortune tellers of Barbados, the dividers or even the obeah men of Barbados. “We celebrating tonight because of the confidence which ordinary men and women….who have not arrogated to themselves the right to what the future holds,” he told supporters, adding “we are celebrating because this organisation during the last five years touched actual lives by its policies and programmes, not to any sample, but to the population itself”.
The results are in mark contrast to the opinion polls that had predicted that the BLP, led by 63-year-old former prime minister Owen Arthur, would have won as many as 20 seats, while the DLP would have gained 13 seats at most.
“The people have spoken …we accept the will of the people,” Arthur said, adding “we were up against a number of factors”.
Both Prime Minister Stuart and Arthur comfortably won their seats, but there was defeat for Labour Minister Esther Byer-Sukoo, who lost to newcomer Dwight Sutherland, an engineer.
Prime Minister Stuart 61, has not yet addressed supporters following the results, but he had earlier indicated that he was confident that the DLP would be returned to office.
He insisted that the DLP had conducted a “very efficient campaign” and that it is sure the public had been fully acquainted with the policies of the party going into the election.
The results could also change as a recount has been ordered in the St. Michael South East constituency where Santia Bradshaw of the BLP won over Patrick Tannis by less than 10 votes.
Never in the history of this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) island since it attainted its political independence from Britain in 1996, has a government failed to obtain anything more than a 10-year term in office.
“Clearly there has been a swing against the government,” said political scientist and pollster Peter Wickham, describing the results as “an odd election”.