Intense political contest at polls today in Barbados, experts say

(Prensa Latina) The ruling Barbados Labor Party (BLP) put the ball in the rival court according to experts when the country celebrates today its first general elections after becoming a Republic in 2021.

In this context, there is a suggestion that the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) must now show at the polls that it can get out of the political desert to which it was banished by voters in the 2018 elections, said an editorial in the Barbados Today newspaper.

According to this analysis, popular opinion, rightly or wrongly, is tilting because the result of today’s vote is virtually a foregone conclusion and the BLP will win, albeit with fewer seats.

It also supports the view that the election result is more of a referendum on the party in power and less on the so-called government-in-waiting.

But most of the debates about these elections agree that the conclusion is solely in the hands of the Barbadian voter, according to the aforementioned editorial.

Another protagonist in this panorama is the Covid-19 pandemic, whose impact on the country changed from the way of campaigning to the way of voting, since almost six thousand qualified are in isolation due to contagion and this prevents them by ministerial provision from going to the polls.

As for the contending candidates, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, leader of the ruling BLP, has campaigned on the country’s record of stabilizing the economy, reducing public debt and substantially increasing foreign exchange reserves.

Mottley insisted that the choice is clear, especially if Barbadians want to move the country forward, since in the manifesto his party commits to making 10,000 homes available to the people and giving first-time homeowners under the age of 35 a grant.

She also aims to eliminate land tax on an initial value of Barbadians’ property and develop the country’s Wealth Fund, to be owned by all adult nationals, according to an editorial in Barbados Today.

Other issues raised by the BLP include the restoration of free university education, the increase in salaries of public officials and the skillful handling of the pandemic.

For her part, the main contender, Verla De Peiza, head of the DLP, promoted a party that wants to see a new beneficial democracy for all compatriots.

In her manifesto, this formation promised to provide a significant reduction in taxes for homeowners and retirees and the regulation of bank fees in the event that the next government forms.

She outlined intentions to halve the garbage and sewage contribution tax and lower import tariffs on “a wide range of selected products.”

She also aimed to exempt freight from the calculation of import tariffs and reduce the special tax on fuel at the pump by up to 25 cents a liter, the source said.

She concluded the editorial saying the world has seen the recent birth of their newest republic and turn to Barbados with renewed interest.

But it is also timely – the text clarifies – that they be shown a mature democracy where today’s result, whatever it may be, is accepted by all as the will of the people.

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