With his left hand in his pocket, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was all smiles, as he confidently walked into the Bayleys Primary School around 1:20 p.m. today to cast his ballot.
Voting in the St Philip North constituency has been going smoothly all day since the polls opened at 6 a.m. to long lines of people waiting patiently to cast their ballots.
However the heavy lines tapered off by mid morning, when voters were seen tricking in to place their ‘X’ next to the name of the candidate of their choice.
After casting his vote, Stuart told the media that he was satisfied with today’s events so far.
“Based on all the reports that I have received, all the constituencies are scenes of a lot of activity. I get the impression that people looked forward to this day to exercise their franchise and this is always a welcomed development.
“I have heard of no incidents that will occasion me any personal disquiet but so far it seems to me that we have been having a successful and peaceful Election Day,” he said, adding that “the partisan activities did heighten understandably, but no incidents that would cause me to worry”.
While at least one of his candidates today levelled allegations of vote buying, the Prime Minister said he had heard no such allegations, unlike in the last election when he had received reports.
“You only know that when it is finished or when you are able to look back to see what has happened, [but] I have not received any reports of any such activity up to now.”
However, he admitted that the contest between his incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the main Opposition Barbados Labour Party has been a “very hot one”.
However, Stuart said he was optimistic of a third term in office even though high turnouts are said to generally favour the opposition.
“I think there is heightened expectation on both sides of the political divide. I certainly in every speech I made in the campaign emphasized the importance of not staying home and therefore if there have been long lines and people have been turning out to vote that is a welcomed sign. It shows that our democracy is in good nick,” he said.
Reflecting on the just ended four-week campaign which was marked by vicious mudslinging, the Prime Minister said he was satisfied that Barbados had a good election period.
“Yes people expressed themselves vigorously and took up very strong positions on behalf of the political party they support but it never transcended the perimeters of decency. All the parties conducted themselves I thought properly and that’s good for our democracy,” he explained, while acknowledging that the final decision now rests with the electorate.
“We fought for a third term and we know that once the clock struck midnight last night it was over to the voters. We are optimistic that we can pull it off but when all is said and done it is the voters that are going to decide and as good democrats we will accept whatever the result is but we are optimistic that we will pull it off,” the DLP leader said.
Also confident of retaining his St Philip North seat is DLP candidate Michael Lashley, who also voted at Bayleys Primary School with his 88-year-old mother Elrita Lashley and siblings Marva and Felix.
“ I believe that my record speaks for itself and I am very confident of a victory,” he said even as he disclosed that his sister Marva made the trek to the polling station today having been discharged from hospital only yesterday.
“It was her desire to vote and she came down,” he added.
His opponent, first-time political contender Dr Sonia Browne of the BLP was not daunted by the fact that Lashley has been the representative for the area for the last three election cycles.
“I have no concerns and I feel pretty comfortable. I am just good and waiting for it to be all over,” she told reporters.
Meantime BLP candidate for St Philip West John King was equally confident of his chances against DLP stalwart Dr David Estwick.
‘I have always been a very confident person regardless of what I put myself in but I think on this occasion and this being my first time, all signs are very, very positive. So I am very confident,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Leader of the United Progressive Party Lynette Eastmond, who accompanied her candidate for St Philip South Bruce Hennis to his polling station at the St Catherine School, was also confident of her party’s chances in today’s general election.
“We are happy with where we are in the whole campaign and the whole election process. I am very pleased with the team that we have been able to put together. We also happy that there are more people participating in the whole electoral process . . . . We are very confident, we have done the work and based on the feedback that we have got, most people are of the view that we do need to have representation from other parties and not just the two established parties,” she told Barbados TODAY.
In all it was an incident free polling day in the east of the island where the DLP is currently in control with Lashley in St Philip North, Estwick in St Philip West and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite in St Philip South.
However, several newcomers are challenging their incumbencies.