BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – History was made in a 167 square miles Eastern Caribbean nation that is home to over 277,000 people yesterday, as voters there elected its first female prime minister by handing her party a landslide victory.
Mia Amor Mottley, 52, of the opposition Barbados Labour Party, (BLP), will be the next Prime Minister of Barbados after the BLP was declared the unofficial winner of Thursday’s general elections. Results early this morning showed the BLP won all 30 of the seats in the Barbados House of Assembly following the May 24, 2018 General Election.
The results came into the wee hours of Friday morning, following a day that was marred with painfully slow counting of the ballots, long lines and confusion in some polling stations nationwide as some voters’ names were not on the list and a dramatic court action.
But close to 4 a.m., the BLP’s headquarters erupted in celebration as news of their victory was announced and Mottley, the island’s first female PM-designate, delivered a victory speech, according to Barbados Today reports.
Mottley, who had faced open questions about her sexuality going into the election from the incumbent Democratic Labor Party, (DLP), insisted that it was not a time to gloat but to unite the country and move forward to keeping the BLP’s campaign promises.
She also called for a weekend of “thanksgiving” and said she will name her cabinet on Monday.
Mottley will be only the fifth female head of government in the English speaking Caribbean joining the ranks of the late Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana, Portia Simpson Miller in Jamaica and Kamla Persad Bissessar in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Barbados election had several hiccups Thursday. Reports indicated that in some stations, the lines were moving so slowly that some eligible voters left without even casting their ballots.
The day also saw a court action that saw Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson stepping in and issuing a court order after a group of about 20 Commonwealth citizens were turned away from voting in the St James South constituency.
Based on the order, the group was eventually allowed to cast their ballots around 8 p.m., two hours after the official closure of the polls.
Counting was also extremely delayed by officials, leaving thousands watching returns on line last night frustrated and angry, as the special boxes from last week’s early voting by election workers and emergency workers failed to show up on time.
The 2018 General Elections was also marred by a tense situation at the Combermere School in the constituency of St. Michael Central just a few hours before the polls closed.
Police had to increase their presence as supporters of the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) candidate, Arthur Holder converged at the entrance of the polling station, clashing with the supporters of the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate, Steve Blackett.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who led the DLP into the election, had been optimistic yesterday his party would secure a third consecutive term but Mottley had predicted earlier in the day that the BLP “got this one.”
Meanwhile, the BLP’s Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic seemed the clear winner in the City of Bridgetown M.P race, beating out both Henderson Williams of the DLP and former prostitute and independent candidate, Natalie Harewood.
THE NEW PARLIAMENT
The new Barbados House of Assembly will also boast the largest number of women Members of Parliament according to Caribbean Elections.com. There will be six women – up from one in the previous House. Newcomers Marsha Caddle, Sandra Husbands, and Dr. Sonia Browne will join Mia Mottley, Cynthia Forde, and Santia Bradshaw.
Other first-time representatives entering the House will be Kirk Humphrey, who defeated Prime Minister Stuart; Neil Holder who defeated Finance Minister Christopher Sincker; Ian Gooding-Edhill, Adrian Forde, Ralph Thorne, Ryan Straughn, Wilfred Abrahams, Indar Weir, John King, Charles Griffith, Colin Jordan, and Peter Phillips. They will be joined by Dr. William Duguid and Joseph Atherley who served in previous Parliaments.
The 2018 election featured a record 135 candidates from nine political parties, and a record 37 women candidates. The Barbados Electoral and Boundaries Commission reported that 255,833 persons were registered to vote in an election where Commonwealth citizens were allowed to vote for the first time.