Barbados Opposition Leader Intends to Contest General Election

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Outgoing Opposition Leader, Bishop Joseph Atherley, says he intends to contest the January 19 general election next year even though he is not yet clear as to whether he would be a candidate for the St Michael West, where he served as legislator for over a decade.

ATHERleyBishop Joseph Atherley (Photo credit: Barbados Today)Atherley was among the victorious members of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that swept all 30 seats in the 2018 general election, before deciding to cross the floor and become Opposition Leader. The BLP, led by Mia Mottley had defeated the then ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in the historic vote.

On Monday night, Prime Minister Mottley announced a snap general election with Nomination Day set for January 3. She said the reasons behind her decision were to unite the country to deal with the socio-economic problems brought on by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But Atherley has described Prime Minister’s Mottley’s move as “crass” and “callous, and that it is an attempt by her to impose a one-party dictatorship on Barbados.

“You have a government with 29 representatives in the Lower House [of Parliament] and 12 people in the Upper House. That is 41 people. So what are you telling us when you say that you are calling an election to have one Government?

“When I hear that call within the context of the reality that we live in, what I’m hearing is a call for one-partyism in Barbados,” said Bishop Atherley , who is leader of the People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP).

“It would seem as though the Prime Minister wants that her voice is the only voice that is heard. It would seem as though the Prime Minister wants that the Government can dictate to us on everything and the people of Barbados can’t raise voice in query, or a voice in contradiction, or a voice in expression of an alternative view,” he told a news conference.

Atherley listed a number of motives that he believes may have triggered Mottley’s announcement, making references to possible internal conflicts within the ruling administration, dwindling popularity based on internal polls, severe austerity from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including job cuts, and an intention to impose “alternative lifestyles”.

He told reporters that the PdP would on Thursday provide further details of its election readiness but acknowledged that while the only party that could have been fully ready for the election is the one in power it also appeared to be somewhat caught off guard.

Meanwhile, President of the Solutions Barbados party, Grenville Phillips III has also confirmed his intention to “shepherd” a full slate of candidates for the snap election.

Phillips described Mottley’s sudden election announcement as “abhorrent” and “terrible”, contending that political parties and the electorate should have at least a year’s notice of an election.

He said that while 0 candidates had been confirmed to run for the party, the intention is to have 30 in time for Nomination Day next Monday.

“I offered myself twice to Barbadians. I offered them my best, twice. I offered them my career, twice. I offered them myself, twice. I offered them no corruption, I offered them a high degree of management… and they decided that they don’t want that. So, I am no longer offering myself as a candidate,” Phillips said.