A nationwide poll conducted by Systematic Marketing & Research Services Inc, shows 62 per cent of the Barbadian electorate favouring a change of Government.
But worryingly for Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, the numbers wishing her to lead a possible new Government are significantly smaller than those calling for a different political dispensation. Only 21 per cent of those polled saw Mottley as the person best suited to lead Barbados.
However, the disenchantment with the current political leadership of the country was even more stark with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart doing marginally worse than Mottley with only 17 per cent viewing him as the best person to lead the country.
The poll, commissioned by a prominent and respected local businessman, was conducted by pollster Joe Davis in three polling divisions in each of the 30 constituencies. Persons 16 years and older who are nationals of Barbados were targeted with one person per household selected. The poll was completed last month and involved a sampling of 1108 persons.
The 62 per cent requesting to see a change in Government were relatively evenly spread by gender but noticeably higher in the age 16 to 55 category. Only 21 per cent of those polled said they didn’t want a change of Government.
Both political leaders got the people’s nod as the best persons to lead their respective parties, outdistancing their respective colleagues by quite a margin. However, it was significant that the majority of people questioned did not know nor could they think of who was the best person to lead the DLP. Twenty-nine per cent of Barbadians thought Stuart was best suited to lead the DLP with his closest rivals being Chris Sinckler and Richard Sealy at one per cent each. However, 41 per cent did not know nor could they think of an alternative party leader.
For the BLP Mottley was the clear favourite to lead that party at 40 per cent. Interestingly, though he is no longer a member of the party, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur was the second most favoured to lead the BLP at 15 per cent. St Joseph MP Dale Marshall received a three per cent approval rate from individuals polled.
Though Arthur has quit the BLP and indicated that the current sitting of Parliament would be his last in elective politics, there were significant pockets wanting him to continue. Forty-four per cent of persons polled wanted Arthur to return to active duty in the BLP while 41 per cent said they didn’t want him to return. Those who wished for Arthur’s return were well spread across demographic groups, and especially so among persons who would support the DLP in the next general election.
In addition to finishing second behind Mottley as the best person suited to lead the BLP, Arthur finished third behind the Opposition Leader and Stuart at eight per cent as the best person to lead Barbados at this juncture. Compared to answers from respondents on the DLP, only four per cent of those polled did not know or could not think of an alternative BLP leader.
The poll also suggested that it would not be in the best interest of the DLP to call a general election anytime soon. Only 20 per cent of those polled indicated they would support the Freundel Stuart administration in an early election. Forty per cent stated they would be voting for the BLP if a general election were called soon. Significantly, though, 34 per cent of those polled refused to divulge their party of choice in the next general election.
As has historically been the case, a third party contesting the next general election seemingly has no chance of forming a new government. Fifty-four per cent of respondents said they didn’t want a third party in the elections while 34 per cent noted they would like that third option.
The recent Dr Maria Agard/Mia Mottley imbroglio has had a negligible impact on the BLP’s image. While 21 per cent of respondents said they felt less favourable towards the BLP as a result of the controversy and four per cent were more favourable, 60 per cent said the impasse that led to Dr Agard’s expulsion had no effect on them. Fourteen per cent had no answer to give on the controversy.
Specific fieldwork in the constituencies of St Michael North, St George North, St Joseph and St James North was conducted on this issue after the announcement that Dr Agard was granted leave from Parliament.