It was on this day, January 19 that the ruling Barbados Labour Party, was given a resounding 30-0 victory in 2022, mimicking the same victory they had pulled off four years prior in 2018.
The General Election was called at the height of the country’s battle against the global COVID-19 pandemic. Mask wearing, social distancing, sanitising, and other protocols were very much in place to manage the deadly virus.
Political meetings did not attract the usual masses and lines at the Polling Stations on the day were not as long and snaking as in 2018. The voter turnout was low, possibly one of the lowest in our country’s electoral history.
On Nomination Day, January 3, more than 100 candidates, including from seven political parties and nine independents, handed in their nomination papers.
There were 266 330 registered voters. However, when the votes were tabulated at the end of Election Day a voter turn-out of 42.77 per cent was recorded.
In the lead up to Election Day, the debate raged on about the timing of the election.
Then Leader of the Opposition Rev. Joseph Atherley was vehemently opposed: “The idea of calling a General Election in Barbados in a pandemic, which has been worsening for us in terms of its impact … it can’t be anything other than reckless and callous to call a General Election a year and a half before constitutionally it is due.”
His sentiments were echoed by then Leader of the Democratic Labour Party Verla DePeiza: “We’ve lost our democracy without intending it. It was a reckless time to call an election.”
The fact that over 6 000 people in isolation would be excluded from voting did not sit well with some of the country’s political scientists.
Political Scientist Dr Kristina Hinds told Barbados TODAY: “I think it is really undemocratic for us to go forward in this way. I am less concerned about what this might mean for the election outcome and more concerned about what it means for a country that says it is a democracy”.
Her counterpart Devaron Bruce warned that a potentially low turnout due to isolation numbers and overall apathy, was likely to produce an outcome that would not represent the true will of the people.
“You can literally see how 5,000 people could have a dramatic impact on the results of the election… and we just simply don’t want a situation where a government is elected by a minority number of votes. That is never healthy for a democracy. That is something that will hover over them for the remainder of their political life, particularly since we’ve heard the narrative of despotic leaders and democracy needed.”
Amidst all the concerns, 42 per cent of Bajans eligible to vote did just that. They went to the polls and reposed their confidence in the Mia Mottley-led administration.
Now here we are a year later.
VOB’s Down to Brasstacks call-in programme on Thursday, as well as the evening newscast, both suggest that the Government has a lot of work to be done. Some suggested that celebrating should not even be an option given all the ills that we are currently facing.
There are questions that have to be asked and must be answered fair and frank. Here are a few:
* Are we better off than we were this exact time last year?
* Are we over-taxed as many have suggested?
* Is the ruling party still resonating with Barbadians in a huge way?
* Is there just cause for celebration by the ruling party?
* Is the large Cabinet along with its slew of consultants performing or delivering the intended results?
* Are the major issues affecting the citizenry being addressed?
* With all the borrowing, is the money being wisely used to facilitate further development?
Party politics aside, we must recap the year 2022 and analyse it rationally and dispassionately.
Leader of the Democratic Labour Party Dr. Ronnie Yearwood, scolded the BLP for staging their celebration on Errol Barrow Day. Sadly, his focus was misplaced yet again.
The issue isn’t so much the day, which is a national holiday. A good political leader, in tune with the pulse of the people, would be more concerned with: How can you celebrate when people are disgruntled and there is still much to be done?
What Government’s chief political strategist Hartley Henry told Starcom Network News should not be taken lightly. Not only does Henry know his job and is hailed as a king and queen maker he operates from the bosom of the ruling party.
The regionally-acclaimed political analyst said: “The first anniversary should, to my mind, be one of serious analysis and serious assessment of what would be required going forward to be able to accelerate the delivery of critical projects and programmes. I am not sure that there is a mood for celebration, to me, that goes counter to what one senses on the ground.”
You simply have to log on to social media, especially Twitter where the younger generation frequent, to get a gist of the level of discontent and annoyance many have with the current Government. It gives one an idea of the “mood on the ground” that Henry has alluded to.
The planned spectacle, taking place on Saturday, will deliver merriment to the masses for a few hours. When all the food and drinks are gone; when the entertainment has ended; when the dust has settled patrons will get up Sunday morning to the same realities they went to sleep with Saturday night.
This begs the ultimate question: Should there be a celebration on Saturday, or should the Government which Barbadians have placed overwhelming confidence in not once, but twice, simply get on with the job?