One Term deserves… Politically Charged Year for Caribbean, what befalls Barbados? Analysis by Angelo Lascelles
Recent developments in the politics of the Caribbean have caused political scientists to carefully examine what could readily be regarded as a trend with governments being removed from office after one term; such was the case in St. Lucia with former Prime Minister Stephenson King, and Jamaica with former Prime Minister Andrew Holness. In Jamaica, some believed that the resignation of Bruce Golding and the appointment of a young Andrew Holness would have given the Jamaica Labour Party the security for a second term. Unfortunately, the discontent among the electorate at the state of the economy, the promises that were not kept and the “Dudus Coke” issue contributed to the JLP defeat. It must be asked however: What implication will these election results have on impending general elections in the region?
The general election in Barbados, constitutionally due in 2013 is one which is much anticipated by the supporters of the two main political parties. Quite peculiar in this election is the fact that both political parties are being led by two senior politicians who have served extensively in Parliament. These two political leaders; Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Opposition Leader Owen Arthur, will be forced to embrace a new approach to election campaigning, as they will be dealing effectively with a more alert and politically conscious electorate. The desires of the youth in 2013 will not be the same as the youth in 2008 and therefore these two leaders will have to make it priority to identify with the youth of Barbados, many of whom have developed apathy to politics and political participation since the last general election. The “disappearing middle class” will be more politically in tuned, critically assessing the policies of both parties, to determine if what is being articulated will help them to maintain a decent standard of living in this current economic climate or whether the rhetoric from the political platforms will be the same rehashed rhetoric of years gone by.
The ruling Democratic Labour Party will indeed be forced to justify the actions taken since 2008, from the increased taxes to the termination of allowances, as was done in the 2011 budget. Indeed they will find it increasingly difficult to convince the public that they had no control over the state of the economy, in the midst of clear growth in other Caribbean territories. The cost of living will feature prominently once again in the 2013 political campaign as it did in 2008 due in large measure to its continuous increase. Both political parties, on the matter of the cost of living, will have to be careful not to promise its reduction without articulating what will be done. The Government, as others, will be faced with an uphill task to convince the public to grant them a second term in office.
The Barbados Labour Party on the other hand will be forced to ensure that unity and stability are paramount in the midst of small spurts of negative publicity. Its major task will be to show itself as a new, improved and invigorated Barbados Labour Party with a different approach to politics. What the Opposition must not do, is to find itself being identified as the government which the people rejected in 2008.
As Barbados gears up for election in 2013, one could only but anticipate that this year, 2012 will be a politically charged year.