Barbadians Vote for a New Government in January Snap Election

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Prime Minister Mia Mottley Monday night announced a snap election for January 19 next year, insisting that she would not allow Barbados to enter 2022 as a divided nation.

BARPMMIAPrime Minister Mia Mottley announcing date for snap general election (CMC Photo)“I urge each and every one of you to go and exercise your democratic franchise,” Motlley said, adding that she had advised President Sandra Mason to declare January 3 as Nomination Day.

The polls are coming 18 months before Mottley, who led the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to a convincing sweep of all the 30 seats in the Parliament on May 24, 2018, should have been seeking a fresh mandate.

In a 37 minute radio and television broadcast, Mottley, the first woman to head a government here, said that in recent days, she had observed what she termed “the silly season” defining how Barbadians regarded the future socio-economic development of the island, at a time when it was also dealing with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We should not go into 2022 as a divided nation,” she said, adding that “were I motivated solely by the need to survive, we could bask in the glory of a 29-1 Parliament and ride COVID out for the next 18 months.

“Defeating COVID would not be a benchmark, surviving it would be the acid test. Were I motivated solely by what is in the interest of the Barbados Labour Party, I would say run the innings down to the last ball and hedge my best that by June of 2023, we would be emerging, if not having already emerged from the brunt of the COVID pandemic. But my friends my worry is now.

“I am concerned if we start 2022 as a divided nation, we will stunt and frustrate our own progress and what we do today stands to affect this country for the next 20 to 30 years. And we are willing to take the risk because we would rather depart leaving Barbados on course to recovery than grapple for the next 18 months as a divided nation, not making the most of the opportunities that this new COVID environment presents”.

Mottley said she is prepared to make those decisions, even if it means forgoing the next 18 months of her government term because “Barbados and Barbadians deserve better and simply remaining at the crease to say that you were at the crease has never been a successful measure to be able to attain progress in this nation”.

Mottley’s BLP is expected to face a main challenge from the Democratic Labour Party (DLP)  that was swept aside in 2018 and Opposition Leader, Bishop Joseph Atherley, who had been part of the victorious BLP when they won all 30 seats, is also expected to contest the polls with a new party.

In her broadcast, Mottley said that there were a number of multi-million dollar projects due to come on stream next year and that the tourism sector, which had been severely impacted by COVID was regaining its position as the major foreign exchange earner in the country.

She also indicated that her administration is confident of continuing to pass the tests under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Barbados had entered into soon after she came to office in 2018.

She said that it is for these reasons that Barbados needed to unite, more so in dealing with Omicron, the latest variant of the COVID pandemic “which is coming and it is going to impact us.

“It is true that they do not expect it to be as serious as Delta in terms of the individual consequences …but it is coming and I need Barbadians to approach and fight Omicron as one country, as one nation, as one people.

“I want us to toll back our shirt sleeves and to work as one to climb our way out of COVID and back into social and economic cohesion and prosperity,” she said, adding “that is why I believe it is so vitally necessary my friends right now to end this silly season because if you ask me after 30 years what is the greatest virtue that his country has, it is the trust and the social capital”.

But she said the behavior she has been seeing from “certain quarters and certain positions of influence in this country, it is not consistent with who we say we are and who we know ourselves to be.”

Mottley said it is important for Barbadians to recalibrate as a people “behind one government and one leader.

“Let me say whoever emerges as that leader, I will support,” she said, pledging to continuing promoting Barbados and Barbadians “in all that I say or do”.

In her broadcast, Mottley said that the elections will take place as the island continues to battle with the COVID pandemic and that discussions will be held with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that voters exercise their franchise in an environment that would not be affecting their health in the future.

“ I know we are still in the midst of COVID, but as we all agreed COVID will be with us for a while,” she added.