One day shy of the 63rd anniversary of a meeting that led to the formation of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 1955, the current leader, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, today announced that Barbadians would go to the polls on May 24 to choose a Government. Nomination Day is May 7.
There was no fanfare, just a terse announcement via the Barbados Government Information Service, very much like he did when he announced the February 21 poll date back in 2013.
Today’s announcement overshadowed any celebration of the anniversary of the April 27, 1955 meeting at “Glenhurst”, Lands End, St Michael, at which the DLP, led by Errol Barrow, was born.
However, it sparked excitement among Barbadians who had been made to wait 51 days after the automatic dissolution of Parliament for an election date.
For people like 21-year-old Javere Edwards, a first-time voter, it was an arduous and unnecessary wait.
“Honestly, it is about time,” Edwards told Barbados TODAY. “The date for elections should have come ever since.”
Even more excited was Stephen Phillips, an unabashed supporter of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which itself is planning a major picnic on Heroes Day, Saturday April 28, the birthday of its founder Grantley Adams.
“I am so happy and proud that the date is finally here, but he should have called it ever since. I wonder why he [Stuart] waited so long,” said Phillips, whose BLP colleague Wilfred Abrahams, the candidate for Christ Church East, saw today’s announcement as a well wrapped Heroes Day present from Stuart.
“I could not get better news today if I had planned it myself,” Abrahams told Barbados TODAY.
“I don’t know what the Prime Minister was thinking calling this election before our picnic. Our picnic is now going to be a big rally.
“I am glad that the waiting is over. I think it was irresponsible for the Prime Minister to make us wait that long. I think it went against everything that was intended for the emergency 90-day period, but day runs until night catches it,” he added.
However, not everyone was displaying this level of enthusiasm or relief, with some, such as Anthony Redman, suggesting the announcement was no big deal.
“Let us look at it like this; the Prime Minister’s prerogative was the call it in his own time and he has not exceeded it,” he said.
“You have an Opposition who say he has not called it, but that is like forcing a green mango [to ripen]. You don’t do it. He called it when he was ready,” Redman added.
Amid the excitement and sprinkles of indifference, were concerns by some, including Edwards, that the politicians only showed up in their constituencies at election time.
“I want to see the politicians from all sides come through the communities and make a change. People are suffering and things are hard and in these times we need persons. We don’t want them to come out only around election, but all year round,” Edwards said, expressing sentiments also shared by one person who gave his name as Ian, and who remained undecided as to whether or not to cast his ballot.
“I don’t think I will even vote. There has to be something really convincing that will push me to vote,” he said.
“Up to now I haven’t seen a politician in my area. They don’t do anything. Roads want fixing and they will look to do it now that election is called. Until the next five years we won’t see them again. So I don’t think they qualify to get my vote.
“You in power for five years, don’t only come around at election time. Make sure you come and know the people. They will now it is election. What am I to do, give them free money for another five years that they don’t deserve? I will vote for the Lord,” he added.