BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Leaders of the two main political parties here on Monday remained confident of victory in the January 19 general elections as candidates were nominated to contest the snap election that Prime Minister Mia Mottley called 18 months ahead of the constitutional deadline.
Mottley, speaking to reporters after completing the nomination process as the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for the St Michael North East constituency, said that in the coming months, tough decisions will have to be made to secure the future of the island.
“We have to take some decisions that will position this country to face some of the most difficult circumstances in the next 10 to 15 years,” she told reporters.
“If we don’t do it now we will be unprepared,” she said, adding “we have already seen how difficult it is to grow through the (COVID-19) pandemic, how difficult it is to deal with as a consequence of the climate crisis with the freak storm and the hurricane”.
She said it was the first hurricane to hit the island in 66 years and that the global community is also dealing with a number of other perils.
“Domestically we also have to prepare the platform where Barbadians can literally can be the best that they can be and that’s going to mean transformation in a number of areas so that our kids can have the best chances that they can have,” she added.
But attorney, Verla De Peiza, who is leading the opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) into a general election for the first time, told reporters after being nominated to contest the St Lucy, that the party is confident of reversing the 2018 results when it was swept out of office by a 30-nil drubbing at the hands of the BLP.
“It is clear that the dissatisfaction with present administration did not take long to set in and let’s face it, it’s a series of own goals that brought them to that point and our people are very pleased to have the opportunity to signal their discontent earlier than they expected.
“Ours was always a ground game so that suits us and also we have a young team of candidates, so social media suits us and that really is the focus we have to have going forward because the safety of our people is the immediate consideration whatever we do in our campaigning”>
De Peiza, who is also the DLP president, said that the party’s mobilization efforts will continue and “fortunately we have been a bit ahead of the game in that we had certain logistics organized, we are re-jigging a few things.
“Nationally, we were also about 90 percent ready…and the re-jigging will be to have a care for the climate in which we are in right now,” she said in reference to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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, it is what it is and we will do our part to make sure that our people are kept safe. There is no intention to endanger the lives of our citizens whilst they exercise their democratic rights”
She said that the DLP is also focusing on winning over “the middle group that takes their speed from the temperature of the country”.
Political observers expect the fight to be a straight battle between the BLP and the DLP, with both parties nominating 30 candidates each for the election.
The Electoral Department has not yet released the total number of candidates that will contest the elections, but said that eligible voters, whose names do not appear on the Preliminary List of Electors, are reminded that they must be registered by Tuesday, the last day for registration for the January 19 poll.
It said inspection of the Preliminary List of Electors and registration to be an elector may be done at any of the Revising/Registration Centers in each constituency and that voters can access the chatbox on the website to confirm their electoral registration status and registration details by entering a query such as, “Am I registered”, followed by entering their National Registration Number.