It’s done … time to move on

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After all the political manoeuvring and propaganda, the Barbuda Council elections are finally over and done with. It was, by all accounts, a council election like no other. All sides rolled out the red carpet for Barbudan voters and the famed uniqueness of Barbuda elections clearly matched the on-the-ground hype.
Before we get into it, however, we need to ask: why did it take so long to count the votes? The count went well into the next morning and people were befuddled by the length of time it took. We were inundated by listeners who pestered the newsroom with that question, so we figured that we would put it out there for someone to explain. Now to the good stuff.
The election and the hoopla surrounding the event could only be described as a ‘win’ for Barbudans. As we said previously, Barbuda is finally getting some serious attention and we hope that they will reap the eventual harvest from the bountiful promises that were laid before them.
Development and employment were the obvious key drivers for votes. There were the promises of the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), along with infrastructure starts and the airport groundbreaking versus a disillusionment, of sorts, that the development promises were not materialising fast enough or were merely “ground-faking”; a term coined by the United Progressive Party (UPP) and the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM). In the end though, the ABLP secured the control of the council and pledged to push ahead.
The next election is a mere two years away so the pressure is now on the ABLP to deliver on its promises in very tangible ways. Judging by the MP for Barbuda, Arthur Nibbs, the overall results did not match his or the party’s expectations. He conceded that the outcome was the bare minimum but maintained a ‘win-is-a-win’ outlook and promised to continue what the ABLP has started.
And speaking of results, Barbuda did not stray from its reputation for nail biting finishes and results that keep politicians in check (or vexed, based on your perspective). The Barbuda Council is made up of 11 seats and nine members are voted in via two bi-annual elections. The cycle is:  four in one year and five, two years later. The other two members consist of the MP for Barbuda and a senator, who is appointed by the Governor General. The previous election saw the vote split 2-2 for the ABLP and BPM (remember, the UPP is just politically aligned with the BPM and does not field candidates in Barbuda). For this election, however, six seats were up for grabs because Saleim Cephas of the BPM resigned in order to pursue studies abroad.
When the count was done, the BPM emerged with four of the six seats available (including the by-election seat), putting their total at five seats and the ABLP with six. Of course, we are following political norms and counting the yet-to-be-appointed senator as an ABLP supporter. So, once again, the balance of power on the council lies in one vote. Funny how that happens in Barbuda.
The results transmitted a clear signal from the people that they want development but are not willing to wait forever for it to happen. The shift was a shot across the bow that people were tired of waiting. The ABLP was given another two years to get things going or the shifting sands of Barbudan politics would likely be more unstable for it.
The interesting thing about this result is that, while both sides can be happy about the result, neither side is likely satisfied. The ABLP did not secure an overwhelming confirmation of its mandate from the people and while the BPM should be happy to have picked up the majority of seats, it did not get the people to issue a firm rejection of the ABLP with a clean sweep.
This all leads to an interesting two years leading up to the next council and general elections. The politicians and parties will have to work extra hard to sway voters to their side. The ABLP has to deliver on its promises and the BPM/UPP have to hope that they don’t.
Needless to say, we will definitely be watching.

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