Mr Stuart and naming of election date

CAROL MARTINDALE, carolmartindale@nationnews.com

Added 15 January 2013

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WHILE POLITICAL hesitancy to announce the date for a new general election in Barbados continues to prevail, in Grenada, not only has parliament been dissolved, but Prime Minister Tilman Thomas has now named February 19 as the date when Grenadians will vote for a new 15-member House of Representatives. Today marks precisely five years ago when an election took place here and resulted in a decisive defeat for then Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s three-term Barbados Labour Party (BLP) by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) for the 30-member House of Assembly under the leadership of David Thompson. Having secured 20 of the seats, Thompson was sworn in as new Prime Minister the following day, January 16. As fate would have it, the dynamic first-time Prime Minister died from cancer on October 23, 2010, and a by-election for his St John’s constituency on January 20, 2011, was secured with a landslide victory by his widow, Mara.  As Thompson’s successor, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was to overcome recurring media reports about internal dissension within his Cabinet. But he still had to cope with constant challenges to announce a date for new parliamentary elections, more so following two successive public opinion polls that pointed to the likely return to Government by the BLP under Arthur’s leadership. However, rather than bow to pressures to announce the date, Stuart opted to project a public posture of being unfazed by the tactics of his opponents. More recently, suggestions that he could announce the date to coincide with Errol Barrow Day, observed every year as a national holiday on January 21 in commemoration of the Father of Independence, have proved to be futile. Then, following last week’s declared political strategy by the BLP to boycott sittings of Parliament until a date is announced, there has now emerged speculations that the Prime Minister could well disclose the date to coincide with next Monday’s celebrations. As reported in our yesterday’s edition, three well known political scientists, while offering varying perspectives, shared the view that the Prime Minister may well have been outmanoeuvred by the BLP’s strategy to call the date before today. Still, Mr Stuart remains stoic in his own timing, in accordance with the Constitution, for announcement of the date.  For what it may be worth, politically, he seems to have the undivided support of his Cabinet and party decision-making colleagues for his stand in not genuflecting to Opposition pressures.

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