With Election Day just days away, Barbados’ two major political parties are pulling-out all the stops and throwing all the punches.
The ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP), with all seats in the 30-member Parliament, is going all-out to keep its full slate, while the opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is treating this snap (18-months-early) General Election as an early chance to at least reduce the ruling party’s absolute majority if not defeat it.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s timing for the snap poll took most people by surprise. However, the DLP was able to announce its full slate of candidates before the governing BLP.
The Dems (DLPs) are taking the fight to the Bees (BLPs) like never before, resurrecting the voice of the late ex-BLP Prime Minister Owen Arthur, a critic of Mia Mottley, and hurling barbs about Mottley’s sexuality.
But the Bees, with advanced knowledge of the election date, had their manifesto pledges out very early, reminding the electorate of the Dems poor economic performance up until 2018, when the Bees was swept into office.
One online pamphlet circulated by BLP supporters urged Barbadians to judge the ruling party on the basis of decisions it had taken, early in its reign, to save the country from economic ruin because of the poor management of the country by the last DLP administration.
Senior government officials associated with the BLP had this to say in defense of the BLP government:
“As Patriots and lovers of Barbados, we laud the Mia Mottley administration for pulling our country out of a Deep, Dark Hole of 24 Downgrades of our Economy, almost No Foreign Exchange Reserves, Sewage in the Street and Broken Public Services, by taking early measures upon taking office.”
These measures included suspending all payments to foreign and local creditors (to restructure national debt), inviting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist in establishing a Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (BERT) and negotiating an IMF loan agreement for $290 Million at a low-interest rate. The IMF’s loan agreement gave the ‘Stamp of Approval’ required to convince other financial institutions to re-engage with Barbados.
BLP online publications urged voters to recall the Mottley administration “using the IMF’s ‘Stamp of Approval’ to engage with other financial institutions to rebuild Foreign Exchange Reserves from $440 Million to $2.8 Billion by October 2021.”
Voters were reminded of the need for the BLP to “re-negotiate privileged contracts entered with a small group of elite Barbadian businessmen who were bleeding Barbadian taxpayers.”
Citing other achievements, the BLP reminded Barbadians of Mia Mottley’s efforts, which “fixed the sewage problem and upgraded the Sanitation Service Authority fleet with new trucks, upgraded the Transport Board fleet with electric buses, started addressing the Water Shortage problem and commenced an extensive Road Repair program.”
To complete the picture of the BLP’s work programme , reference was made to “Having utilized the replenished stock of foreign reserves to finance Barbados’ response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and worked so quickly and effectively to restructure and redevelop the finances of our Government,” the BLP government “was in a position to finance all of the critical COVID-19 Response measures, in an effort to take Barbadians safely through the life and death crisis.”
Now in the final week to election day, the election rhetoric is expected to get louder and not so pleasant. The Bees appear to be humming on their way to victory but with less sting and with a few likely casualties, resulting in a reduced majority in the Barbados Parliament.