Ready, set, go! General election date confirmed for January 18

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By Robert A. Emmanuel [email protected]

Voters will go to the polls in Antigua and Barbuda to elect a new government to lead them for the next five years on January 18.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne also announced that nomination day will be held on December 28.

Browne, who is hoping to lead the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) into a third consecutive term in office, made the announcement at the ruling party’s official candidate launch at the ABLP headquarters on Monday night.

“What is important is that you have a group of candidates that are committed to serving the people,” the Prime Minister declared in front of a crowd of Labour Party supporters.

He is hoping to bank on several achievements that his administration was able to accomplish during the last five years.

“When we came into power, we faced three challenges; this was the first time any administration in the government had to face that many…we had fiscal failure, economic failure, and banking failure. But I can say within 12 months of our administration, we resolved them all,” the Prime Minister boasted.

He acknowledged that the availability of running water nationwide had made “slow” progress but claimed his administration had invested more in water infrastructure than any other, and pledged the shortages would be fixed “in a matter of months”.

Browne also spoke about large-scale development in Barbuda and a massive forthcoming investment from Saudi Arabia aimed at expanding the University of the West Indies Five Islands’ campus offerings.

Meanwhile, the other opposition parties have engaged in active campaigning since early January, hoping to convince the electorate.

The main opposition, the United Progressive Party (UPP)—which has been out of power since 2014—has been hosting several events throughout the year, from small business ‘pull-ups’ to media engagements and public rallies, seeking to energise its base in preparation for the election.

With only four repeat UPP candidates running—UPP Political Leader Harold Lovell, Deputy Political Leader Jamale Pringle, Senator Richard Lewis, and Jonathan Joseph—the party is hoping that a slew of new faces can help lead them to victory at the polls.

The UPP is also hoping to rely on young voters this time, with a push from the party’s recently revived youth arm, the Progressive Youth. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has sought to convince voters that they are a viable third party option this election cycle.

DNA Political Leader Joanne Massiah, despite several high-profile resignations over the last few weeks, continues to insist that the country’s newest party is on the right track and can win the election.

Past election data has suggested that the key battleground constituencies will be St Mary’s South, St Phillip’s South, St John’s City East, St John’s Rural West, All Saints East and St Luke, and Barbuda.

However, neutral observers will be also watching the constituency of St Peter where the shadow of former Labour MP Asot Michael looms large.

Michael announced an independent candidacy run for his constituency following his removal from the Labour Party slate in 2021. Michael was expelled from the Labour Party after a corruption scandal involving British investor Peter Virdee in 2019.

Following a threat against Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh—who later recused herself from a civil case against Michael—the Prime Minister became “fed up” and removed Michael from the Labour Party ticket. Now with Labour-backed candidate, Rawdon Turner, facing the incumbent MP, all eyes will be on that race as Michael’s influence in the constituency will be tested.

With just over four weeks until election day, voters can be assured that campaigns from all political sides will now only ramp up.

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