“I want everybody to stay calm. We got this one. We’re doing well!”
That was the key message Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader and St Michael North East incumbent Mia Mottley said she wanted to convey to all Barbadians on Election Day after she cast her ballot at the St Michael North polling station at Eden Lodge Primary School this afternoon.
Mottley, who appeared to be brimming with confidence, told reporters she was impressed with the turnout of voters this morning, describing it as nothing short of phenomenal.
“Voting in our country is not mandatory. So always for the whole run up, you got to be able to persuade people and explain to people . . . and not everybody is interested [with] the same interest. But what we saw this morning, was nothing short of phenomenal in terms of the intensity of the numbers of people wanting to come out. It is as if they couldn’t wait to vote,” she said with a smile and shrug of her shoulders.
The BLP leader however was still adopting a wait-and-see approach as far as the final result was concerned.
“We now have to see how the rest of the day pans out and whether we would end up with a higher than normal turnout or what we may end up with is an average or just below average turnout, but with a high intensity for those who want to vote and who feel that they voted for Barbados and its future. And if that happens, then I think we are in good shape,” Mottley stressed, while stating that the BLP was the party with the best plans and the best team to lead the country for the next five years.
She suggested that this morning’s turnout was in the order of 45 per cent of the electorate, with another voting spurt expected between 3.30 p.m. and the close of polls at
At the same time Mottley took issue with the country’s voters’ list saying, “I have maintained that Barbados needs an enumeration”. She pointed out that the effective turnout for the last three to four elections was higher than the expected turnout, based on the official list.
However, the St Michael North incumbent thanked Barbadians for heeding her party’s call to come out early in their numbers.
“I think we are satisfied they have done that. There has been a lot of passion on the part of people for their country. People feel this is a significant . . . in fact, in many instances, the most significant election since Independence and that this election would determine the direction of our country . . . whether there is a new dawn or whether we continue upon a path where institutions continue to do poorly and the economy continues to contract,” she said while referring to the last ten years as a lost decade for the country.
Today’s polling process was marred by reports of voters being turned away in the St Michael North constituency because their names were either not on the register or they did not have their identification cards.
However, while admitting that there had been some hiccups, Mottley gave the assurance that they were being managed in an orderly manner.
“Barbados has a tradition of being orderly and we want to maintain that as far as possible. Those names that have been dropped off the list, we are trying to see what we can get back on the list by the proper process . . . through the courts and through interaction with the Electoral and Boundaries Commission,” she said.
As for her own electoral fortunes, Mottley, who has held the St Michael North East seat for the past five terms since 1994, admitted that this would be the first election in which she did not spend as much time in her own constituency as she ought to.
“I reckon I will pay the price for that. But in paying the price for that, once I can bring along the Government and the country I will feel good,” Mottley said, adding that she has had little sleep in the past few days and did not expect much in the coming days either.
In addition to the incumbent Democratic Labour Party, there are five other political parties in today’s race.
However, Mottley sees it as a straight fight with the DLP which commanded 16 seats in the last Parliament compared to her BLP’s 14.