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High turnout at Barbados polls
Local observers reported a steady stream of voters throughout the course of the day as the two competing parties assisted in ensuring their supporters reached one of the island’s 541 polling stations yesterday.
Among the mid-morning voters was Prime Minister Freundel Stuart who expressed concern about reports of alleged vote-buying by the opposition BLP. He however expressed confidence his party would be returned to office. “I am left with no doubt,” he said.
About an hour earlier, BLP leader Owen Arthur had cast his vote and told reporters he was “buoyed” by what was viewed then as a high voter turnout. Yesterday’s election climaxed a bruising campaign which focused almost exclusively on competing strategies to address the country’s increasingly unstable economy.
The DLP pointed to its ability to avoid defaulting on its international loans, as has been the case with several other Caribbean countries. BLP platform speakers, meanwhile, harped on what they argued was the Stuart administration’s inability to deal with high inflation, unemployment and a growing economic underclass.
T&T featured prominently on the DLP platform late Wednesday with claims by Finance Minister Christopher Sinckler and Agriculture Minister David Estwick that a win for the BLP would see the entry of more T&T investors who, in Estwick’s words, “want to buy everything in Barbados.”
BLP economic advisor, Clyde Mascoll, meanwhile, promised his party would reduce Value Added Tax (VAT), together with the fuel surcharge on electricity bills. He said during DLP rule since 2008, the poor had grown poorer and the middle class had struggled to survive.
In preparation for last evening’s vote count, the police announced crowd control measures to ensure victorious political celebrants did not break the law. All police leave was cancelled and all state security forces, including “government security guards”, were expected to take to the streets.
There were 247,211 registered voters with 68 DLP, BLP and other candidates seeking their support. Just 12 were female and there were 22 candidates who were newcomers to national election.
In 2008, the DLP won the election with 53.21 per cent of the popular vote, earning 20 seats in the process. The BLP lost its hold on power with 46.52 per cent of the vote, winning ten seats.
DLP leader David Thompson died in October 2010 and Stuart was nominated to replace him as prime minister. A Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) poll published days before yesterday’s election had predicted a ten to 13 seat margin of victory for the BLP.
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