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Undecided!


Tony Best

Undecided!

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Happy that the election bell has been sounded but undecided on how it will be answered.
That’s how Barbadians in the United States have reacted to the decision of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to call the next election for February 21 but they are split on the possible outcome.
Elizabeth Thompson, a former cabinet minister in the last Owen Arthur Administration but who was the executive coordinator of the United Nations Rio-Plus 20 conference in Brazil last year, described the election as a “critical one that requires seriousness”, an intense focus by both parties on the economic and social challenges confronting the island-nation.
“I very much hope that both parties will be dealing with, not empty propaganda but the issues; how they propose to address them; and what they can do to improve the state of the country and its citizens,” Thompson said.
“I look forward to following the election very closely and I hope it will be clean and our traditions for free and fair elections will be maintained so that people can make a free choice. As they say, ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God.’ ”
Thompson said that during a recent visit to her homeland, she “sensed there was a tremendous shift of support away from” the ruling Democratic Labor Party administration.
“Whether that shift is significant enough for the government to change and whether the Barbados Labour Party can capitalize on that desire for change and to persuade people that they are ready and able to reform the government is a separate issue,” Thompson added.
“I have to say, however, that given the history of significant reliability of CADRES that the seven per cent swing holds good and the campaigns don’t create movement away from the numbers contained in the poll, then I would expect a Labour Party victory with perhaps in the region of 20-24 with a seven per cent swing.”
Pauline Clarke, president of the Friends of Barbados DLP Association, the ruling party’s arm in the United States, didn’t pinpoint the size of its expected majority but she predicted success at the polls.
“I would love them to be returned to office and I don’t see why the party shouldn’t be successful on February 21,” Clarke said. “When I was in Barbados early last year I was quite pleased about some things I saw and I am hoping and praying the party would be returned to office.”
Peggy Codrington, a Brooklyn resident and a long-time DLP party supporter in Barbados and New York, fully expects the political organization to win again and she based her prediction on its track record before and since 2008.
“I am confident the DLP will retain the government but with less of a majority. The party has the legacy of Errol Barrow and David Thompson to carry on with. The work that they did must be continued,” said Codrington.
“The only way working class and poor people in Barbados can get anything done is through a DLP government. I don’t think the BLP is a party of the people. It’s up to the people of Barbados to decide what they are going to do.”
Jessica Odle-Baril, a former Consul General in New York who once sat in the Senate in Bridgetown, said the date didn’t catch her off-guard because it was “constitutionally due”.
“From the telephone calls I have been receiving for several months and from the CADRES poll it would seem there is a groundswell of dissatisfaction with the incumbent government and it should position the BLP with a very good opportunity for victory at the polls,” she said.
“As a person who was a candidate for a House of Assembly seat it is not over until you have canvassed each person in a constituency and the responsibility rests with each candidate to present the case for the political party they are serving.”
Most Barbadians pinpointed the state of the economy, unemployment and rising cost of living as the key issues in the campaign.
Haldane Wiltshire, vice-president of the Better Life for our People, the BLP’s New York arm, predicted the party would capture between 20-24 seats in the upcoming election.
 “The reason for that prediction is that for the past five years the people in Barbados believe the government hasn’t tackled the key issues that affect them such as high unemployment, high cost of living and accountability,” Wiltshire said.

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