A total of 108 candidates from seven parties and nine independents will contest the January 19 general elections, the outcome of which party leaders say will be crucial to Barbados overcoming the expected challenges to come.
The final tally was reported by election authorities as Supervisor of Elections Angela Taylor told Barbados TODAY the Nomination Day process on Monday went well.
Among those filing nomination papers minus the crowds of supporters and the traditional hype, due to COVID-19 restrictions, were Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Democratic Labour Party (DLP) leader Verla De Peiza, and former Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley who had former Senator Caswell Franklyn as his election agent and zonal campaign manager.
The Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and the DLP are both fielding a full slate of 30 candidates while Bishop Atherley’s Alliance Party for Progress (APP) has nominated a total of 20 candidates.
Prime Minister Mottley, who cautioned that the country has some difficult times ahead, turned up at St Matthews Primary School in Jackmans, St Michael to hand in her nomination papers to loud cheers from dozens of placard-bearing supporters decked out in the party colour.
However, their expectations of being able to follow their political leader into the nomination centre with the posters were dashed, due to COVID-19 limitations.
After advising her supporters that the protocols needed to be respected, Mottley paused to speak with media workers in the shade of the trees on the periphery of the nomination centre.
She said the country now stands at a “very, very difficult point” and the next administration has to make some decisions that will position Barbados to face “some of the most difficult circumstances for the next 10 to 15 years”.
“If we don’t do it now, we will be unprepared, and none of us will want that. We have already seen how difficult it is through the pandemic; how difficult it is as consequences from the climate crisis, with the freak storm and the hurricane [Elsa],” Mottley declared.
The Prime Minister warned that the world will also face a number of other perils and the Government must create a platform so Barbados can become the best they can be.
“And that is going to mean transformation in a number of areas; so that our kids can have the best chance that they can have; people can have access to housing, people can have access to opportunities and people can live in a fair and just society,” she said.
Mottley said she has a team that will make the strongest possible case as to why the BLP administration is the best group to continue carrying this country forward, and to protect it.
However, Bishop Atherley, who led his green-clad team into the Moott Hall of the Combermere School with no fanfare and under the watchful eyes of a police officer, said a BLP administration would not take Barbados in the right direction and suggested that there was a need for a change in Government.
“There is a pattern emerging around issues in Barbados which suggests that this government, if elected, would take this country down a wrong path. Bajans have to wise up to that and be alert to that,” said the APP leader who had arrived at the nomination centre around 10:25 a.m, accompanied by his wife, Esther, Franklyn and other team members.
“There are some things going on in the global agenda, they may be imported here. It scares me that Barbados is hovering on the brink at a very critical juncture. They [voters] just need to get up and understand, it is the future of Barbados, it is the future of our children,” he said, adding that other burning issues which need to be addressed include corruption, debt, trust and confidence, consultation with the people and values.
Bishop Atherley contended that regardless of the outcome of the polls, the country needs a strong opposition in Parliament.
“Change this government, or if you feel satisfied with what they are doing, make sure that the Opposition in the Parliament, which has been doing its job, is strengthened,” he appealed to voters.
“Bajans have to address the balance, the configuration that now obtains in the Parliament of Barbados. Any government, whatever label it wears, whether it is the APP… whether it’s the DLP or BLP, cannot be allowed to go into the Parliament with such numbers in dominance that it can do what it wants,” he told reporters.
De Peiza, meantime, reiterated her view that the upcoming election was not necessary at this stage but gave the assurance that her party would mount a safe campaign.
“It is a tough time to call an election. It is not even a necessary time to call an election with 18 months or so to go, but it is what it is. We will do our part to make sure more people are kept safe. There is no intention to endanger the lives of our citizens while they exercise their democratic rights,” the DLP leader said.
However, she signalled that her team was fully mobilized as the campaign moves into high gear with the nomination process now completed.
After completing her nomination at the Daryll Jordan Secondary School in St Lucy, she declared the DLP was a bit ahead of the game and with a few changes, will be rolling out its campaign.
“We will shortly be releasing our list of meetings. The only re-jigging is to have a care in relation to the climate that we are in right now,” she said referring to the current COVID-19 pandemic.