A former Deputy Chief Electoral Officer is today predicting a number of sure seats for the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in the highly anticipated general elections, which are constitutionally due here by June.
Donville Johnson, who served from January 1997 to November 2006 in that capacity, said he was confident newcomer Kim Tudor would defeat longstanding Barbados Labour Party (BLP) representative for St Michael North Ronald Toppin.
Delivering the weekly Astor B Watts lunchtime lecture at the DLP headquarters on Friday on the topic, Be Prepared, Johnson, who is a ruling party stalwart, also forecasted a clear win for the DLP incumbent Denis Kellman in St Lucy, but stopped just of saying that its representative in St Andrew Irene Sandiford-Garner will be able to overcome the Barbados Labour Party’s George Payne this time around.
“I was in a place liming in St Michael North and I can tell you that my predictions are that Kim Tudor will eat up Toppin. She will eat him up. She has good support and she will get more support,” declared Johnson.
His prediction about Tudor, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE), contradicts that of veteran political scientist and pollster Peter Wickham, who in January told Barbados TODAY the first timer did not stand a chance against the BLP’s Toppin, who had held the St Michael North seat for 24 years.
Wickham had argued that with the elections mere months away it would be difficult for the electorate to take any DLP candidates who threw their hats in the ring at the eleventh hour seriously.
However, Wickham did say he believed Tudor could have been a strong contender had she been given more time to prepare.
Wickham’s prediction not withstanding, Johnson still suggests the DLP stands a good chance of claiming St Michael North in the next election.
And when it comes to St Andrew, Johnson argued that any DLP candidate should win Shorey Village, which he described as “DLP ground”.
However, he said the final result in St Andrew would depend on what happens in Chalky Mount, Hillaby, White Hill and Orange Hill – areas that usually give a good indication of who the representative for that rural constituency would be.
“Same thing happens in St Lucy – along the coast road, if the Democratic Labour Party is losing, BLP is going to be in business, but you see when they get up inside St Lucy, Kellman is going to mash them up,” Johnson declared.
“That is why you have to know your stronghold, know the patterns of voting. Patterns evolve over a number of elections, over a number of years,” he added.
Taking a jab at leader of the budding United Progressive Party (UPP) Lynette Eastmond, Johnson also suggested that she did not stand a chance against the DLP’s Henderson Williams in The City, after being defeated multiple times before in St Philip West by Dr David Estwick.
“She get beat three times in St Philip and she ran from up there and come to The City. She understands The City? You have to understand constituencies. Every constituency has certain characteristics you can’t take from one and move it to the other,” he said.
Turning his attention to St John and St Philip, Johnson did not predict an outright win for the DLP candidates, but said those were two parishes where he believed people would return home to vote although they may now reside elsewhere.
“Those people from those constituencies have loyalty and dedication to their constituencies. So on the surface a lot of us just think things happen. The Prime Minister calls election and people go and vote, but there are thinkers behind everything that happen,” he explained.
Urging DLP candidates and canvassers to be ready for the upcoming elections, Johnson advised them to remain humble, familiarize themselves with the law and the constituents in order to “become household names” and to stay focused and ignore “the lot of the noise at this time”.
He also advised that there were several things that candidates should do on their own instead of depending on their political party for financing, including setting a budget, acquiring a public announcement system and “identify people in your constituency or in Barbados who are potential donors”.
Asked if he believed the recent ruling by the Supreme Court which clears the way for Commonwealth citizens to participate in the upcoming election could influence the outcome of the poll and if he anticipated more Commonwealth citizens residing in Barbados to vote, the former High Commissioner to London said he did not want to speculate.
In fact, Johnson said he had not yet “studied the ruling sufficiently”, but believed there were good grounds for Government to challenge it.
“So I have no doubt that the Chief Justice would have in his eminence looked through it and said, ‘well look, it isn’t just emotional feelings, but these people are entitled’. But the caveat would be that you have to make an application and get on the [voters’] list,” Johnson said, warning that “You could be whoever and you do not appear on the electoral list, I am sorry you cannot vote.”
“The Attorney General has already indicated that he will challenge it and there may very well be good ground for challenging it,” he added. [email protected]