BARBADOS: PM Mia Mottley wins second landslide 30-0, for second term

— PM who shot to fame at Cop26 climate talks vows to ‘lead country first to safety then to prosperity’

Mia Mottley casts her vote in St Michael, Barbados.
Mia Mottley casts her vote in St Michael, Barbados. Photograph: Nigel R Browne/Reuters
in Bridgetown, Barbados –Thu 20 Jan 2022 09.55 GMT- THE GUARDIAN

The 56-year-old’s Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won all 30 seats, repeating the historic 30-0 win in 2018, in an election marred by complaints that thousands of Covid-positive Bajans were denied a vote.         

Mottley came to international attention last year when she castigated global leaders at Cop26 and her government jettisoned the Queen as head of state, installing the singer Rihanna as an official national hero at the same time.

She also has star power at home, where she is known by her first name only. Her clean-sweep victory suggests voters did not blame her for the island’s tourism revenues falling by 90% during her truncated first term due to the Covid pandemic.

An 11th hour attempt to stop the poll failed on Tuesday night when the country’s high court ruled it had no jurisdiction to postpone the election, which took place amid rising Omicron cases.

Philip Catlyn, the opposition candidate who brought the case, had argued that 5,600 people in isolation were disfranchised after they were banned from going to polling stations to cast their vote. Anyone who tests positive on the island of 287,000 people has to wear a tracking bracelet to deter them from breaking quarantine.

Huge crowds celebrated into the early hours of Thursday outside BLP’s headquarters in the capital, Bridgetown, after Barbados’s midnight curfew was lifted for the night.

In her victory speech, Mottley said the landslide victory would allow her government to “lead the country first to safety and then to prosperity” and to prepare Barbados for the challenges “of the next 10 to 15 years”. These include climate change and antimicrobial resistance, she said.

Global heating poses an existential threat to Barbados. Last year the island suffered its first hurricane in 65 years and a storm with almost 500 lightning strikes in the space a minute, plus volcanic ash-falls from neighbouring St Vincent.

Though Barbados is reliant on long-haul flights and polluting cruise ships for much of its economy, Mottley was the breakout star of Cop26, taking global leaders to task for their inaction on climate change.

At the BLP’s final rally on Tuesday, Liz Thomas, Barbados’s ambassador for climate change, reminded the crowd of the US president, Joe Biden, walking hand in hand with Mottley: “White people from all over the globe say to me: how do I get a Barbados passport? Caribbean people say to us: ‘How do I get a Mia Mottley?’, ‘I wish we had a Mia, give us Mia, lend us Mia’, but Barbados got Auntie Mia,” she said.

Basking in her second straight landslide, Mottley promised to uphold the values of Errol Barrow, the first post-independence prime minister of Barbados, who said the country would be “a friend of all and a satellite of none”.

Despite the BLP’s thumping victory, Cynthia Barrow-Giles, professor of constitutional governance and politics at the University of the West Indies, believed Mottley’s imposition of republicanism without a referendum had turned some voters away from the BLP.

“People are so angry they were not consulted by the prime minister. They see it as an authoritarian tendency and autocratic,” she said. Barrow-Giles and a colleague polled Bajans and found while only a minority wanted to retain the British monarch as head of state, most objected to the lack of consultation.

Though the BLP’s lengthy manifesto made numerous eye-catching promises, such as building 10,000 homes and investment in the medicinal cannabis industry, Mottley’s second term is likely to be dominated by recovering and diversifying the Bajan economy, post-Covid. As part of a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund, the Barbados government needs to achieve a 6% surplus of GDP, which may lead to austerity measures, said Barrow-Giles.

One of Mottley’s preoccupations is also addressing Barbados’s ageing population via immigration. She wants to attract more “digital nomads” to the island and lure back the Bajan diaspora, repeatedly saying on the campaign trail that the island “hasn’t replaced its population since 1980”.

The main opposition, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which ruled Barbados between 2008 and 2018, campaigned against the BLP “one-party state”. Voters were not convinced and Barbados will have no official opposition for the next five years.

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  • kamtanblog  On 01/21/2022 at 1:18 am

    No opposition for another 5 years or forever ?
    Begs the question
    Is Paradise to become a “dictatorship” aka one party state.?
    Warning : Emperors ruled Rome for centuries.
    Kings and queens replaced them.
    Politicians replaced them.
    Who/what will replace politicians ?
    Elon Musk’s robots !

    Riahana or Mia to replace the other queen
    HRH QE2 ?
    Is God male or female or of some other dna ?

    Mama Mia queen of paradise !
    Go Mia go

    K UK

  • wally n  On 01/21/2022 at 12:48 pm

    How I see it…she has taken over the bridge of the Titanic…all bravado,symbolism…one party? what is wrong with those people?
    Solution alert,
    ask/request/beg to become a colony of Guyana, still time,I think there is some thing we can do for them.

  • brandli62  On 01/21/2022 at 4:27 pm

    30 BLP : 0 DLP ! I congratulate Mia Motley whole heartedly for winning a well-deserved second term. I am however very worried for the future of the Barbadian democracy.

    The result is however surreal and potential danger to the Barbadian democracy. Such a result is only possible with a first-past-the-post electoral system (FPTP), mostly practiced in the English-speaking world. As a result, the oppositional DLP no longer represented in parliament. This is despite the fact that they probably won 25-30% of the votes (final results still pending). In a system with proportional representation, DLP would have reached some 6-9 seats in parliament. A system, where the opposition is no longer represented in parliament cannot fulfil it’s role in being critical with the ruling party. And as we know, absolute power makes people corrupt and self-righteous. After Mia Motley managed to sever the ties to the British monarchy, it’s know high time to seve dispose the FPTP system for a system of proportional representation for the sake of the future of the Barbadian democracy.

  • wally n  On 01/21/2022 at 5:05 pm

    It is obvious that PR is much better, especially in cases where the country is slipping towards an abyss, all voices need to be heard, the serious problems coming down will affect every Barbadian, I noticed she is going to be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Oil Conference, ten bucks she proposes a pipe line.

    • kamtanblog  On 01/22/2022 at 10:57 pm

      Am Not in favour of a PR system of government.
      FPTP is a better system for electing members of parliament.
      …. A better form of democracy as MPs represent the voters in their constituencies.
      Of course this can be improved by introducing compulsory voting. As in Australia where fines for abstentions are used to fund elections/electioneering.
      My local MP (did note vote for him) who was elected sits in Westminster aka parliament as the representative of my township and its voters. Now he wishes to extend the boundaries to increase his political ambition by
      suggesting the township aquire City status.
      Am happy with villages making up townships and towns (my town 109.000) towns remaining towns.
      All political power to individual or party is not
      democracy in principle or practice.
      Politricks !

      Off my soap box

      K UK


      • brandli62  On 01/23/2022 at 9:45 am

        Here example from Canada’s General Elections 2015. Sorry, Kamtam, but you cannot convince me that FPTP is a fair representation of the people’s will.

  • Tata  On 01/22/2022 at 9:35 pm

    Of All the countries in the Caribbean hemisphere, Barbados stood out like a beacon of hope and decency. But this election 30/0 win, is VERY disturbing. We see this also in Saint Vincent. Motley has joined the ranks of corrupt Caribbean leaders who do not respect the will of it’s people. Where in “mother’s world “ that ANY political leader would win an election 30/0 with so much public outcry about everything political and socially egregious. Are people this naive to believe this nonsense?

  • wally n  On 01/23/2022 at 11:12 am

    Tata has a good point, not the process it is the people. Seems in Guyana and most of the Caribbean,except Jamaica the people are willing to wait,four years, until their party takes over. Has to stop, think party, act country, demand even handled legislation, stop dividing the country into sections belonging to one party or the next, it goes nowhere, and a misuse of assets.

  • brandli62  On 01/23/2022 at 2:30 pm

    In addition, there is there threat that Mia Mottley and the BLP can change the constitution as they have full control of Parliament. This is potentially very dangerous.

    The solution is proportional representation (PR). Personally, I would go for party-list proportional representation using an open list system with panachage option. In party-list proportional representation multiple candidates are elected through their position on an electoral list. The open list system is any variant of party-list proportional representation where voters have at least some influence on the order in which a party’s candidates are elected. They can remove candidates or add candidates from other parties to the party list. In addition to being able to distribute their votes between different lists (panachage), voters may add names to lists, and/or delete one or more of the names appearing on others.

  • wally n  On 01/23/2022 at 3:43 pm

    You suggesting national referendum for a change in the electoral process? Well I don’t think any Government in power,especially when money pouring in from the sky, wants anything to do with that. Back to the population please wake up, stop looking for handouts, think country, let every voice be heard, in a few years when the crud hits the fan, the people are gonna be sorry, too late too late shall……

  • wic  On 01/23/2022 at 8:32 pm

    A short while ago, Motley was revered by all and sundry for the dumping of the British Monarchy; why should non-Guyanese now criticize her for twice winninga fair elections with a complete majority? it was up the opposition leaders in the country to put forward a credible election platform to ensure the support of the people. They failed and can only blame themselves.

    It was also very clever of Motley while riding high on the country becoming a republic, to call the election which gave her this resounding majority and good for her. Hopefully, the leaders of Guyana can learn that citizens will often support leaders whom they believe will bring economic benefits until the leaders fail, then they can be turfed out.

    That’s unlikely however, as while Barbados has a fairly homogeneous ethnic population, Guyana doesn’t and never will, and its people will mostly vote APNA
    not APAN as was said back in the 60’s. For those of you who don’t understand, APNA mean “Support your OWN” (Hindi/Punjabi). Polluting cruise ships? not worthy of comment here.

    PR has created problems in many advanced countries where govts. fall regularly due to the inability of leaders to cooperate and form effective coalition govts. Israel, Italy come to mind. With the statistics of Canada’s election results shown, one can only guess the chaos Canada would have should PR should be implemented and we ain’t going to have it no matter what the socialist NDP would like – not for a long time to come will the majority of Canadians vote NDP.

    The British model of first past the post works very well in Canada with a minority govt. now in place. In due course, other parties will have their turn at a majority when they can prove they are capable of governing for the people. Just note what the socialist’s agenda is now doing in the US that has resulted in high energy and increased food costs etc. and you will see how some types of socialism can wreck a country. As Dr. B very well knows, PR and socialism in the Scandanavian countries aren’t the same as in Eastern Europe, Asia and China and the latter only have modest success when the people are held under the gun.

    Any idea of changing an elected govt. no matter how poorly it performs before it’s term is completed, is unacceptable and would set a worse precedent than the chaos ensuing from PR.

    Additionally, notwithstanding Motley castigating world leaders last year, not mentioned/ known is Barbados’ good fortune over the years to have had a small petrochemical industry where enough oil and gas were pumped to satisfy its domestic needs and the money wasn’t squandered. The oil is said to be now nearly dried up, but the supply of gas remains adequate for the foreseeable future – so I am told.

    • brandli62  On 01/24/2022 at 4:28 am

      “PR has created problems in many advanced countries where govts. fall regularly due to the inability of leaders to cooperate and form effective coalition govts. Israel, Italy come to mind. With the statistics of Canada’s election results shown, one can only guess the chaos Canada would have should PR should be implemented and we ain’t going to have it no matter what the socialist NDP would like – not for a long time to come will the majority of Canadians vote NDP.”

      Wic, you are inflating the problems of PR. The countries you are citing Israel and Italy on the whole doing fine. Despite frequent changes in government. At least you do not have the situation where the entire opposition is excluded from Parliament as is now the case in Barbados. They won 27% of the vote and have zero representation. You cannot call this fair and its bad for Barbadian democracy as the opposition has important role in controlling and challenging the incumbent administration. With no representation, they will not able to file motions, ask for changes to bills tabled in parliament or call for a vote of non-confidence. Do our really think this a good for Barbados?

  • brandli62  On 01/24/2022 at 4:33 am

    The true litmus test of PM Motley’s credentials as a fighter for representative and inclusive democracy would be a move to voting system based on proportional representation. I can tell you that she will not. Holding absolute power for the next four years is sweet.

  • kamtanblog  On 01/24/2022 at 4:40 am

    Come let’s be truthful
    Barbados is now a dictatorship and
    Mama Mia is now it’s God !

    Power corrupts
    Ultimate power corrupts ultimately!


    K UK

  • wic  On 01/25/2022 at 2:03 pm

    My friends, I acknowledge the optics don’t look good at this time for Barbados, but it was a fair election with 73% of the votes going to Motley – that was the peoples’ choice and I haven’t heard any allegations of voting fraud. We need to accept the will of the people and not worry about Motley’s possible future misuse of power.

    In Guyana’s mid 70’s elections, under PR, do you recall that the elections were so rigged that the PPP got less votes in Port Mourant, Cheddi Jagan’s hometown, than the PNC? It was said that even the leader of the PNC was embarrassed of those results. So while PR did give the PPP seats in parliament, it was toothless; as one US leader said many years ago, “what matters is not who votes, but who counts the votes”.

    A good level of integrity in managing the trust bestowed by the people is what matters and we all need to cut the 73% Motley supporters some slack even though we all know that power corrupts. I believe there was at least one smaller island in the Caribbean which found itself in the same situation many years ago and it’s not a dictatorship as the situation changed in later years.

    When Motley fails to deliver for whatever reason, she will be turfed by the 27% who opposed her plus many of those who now support her. Until she can be fairly accused of rigging the elections to prevent that, we need to Trust but Watch her. I rest my case.

    • brandli62  On 01/26/2022 at 6:03 am

      Wic, I am not questioning the legality of the recent elections in Barbados! To my knowledge (and that of independent observers), the elections were carried out fair and transparent.
      My criticism is focused on the Barbadian electoral system, which allows for one party to capture all seats in parliament despite the fact that 27% of the votes were cast for the opposition. In a system with proportional representation (as practiced in Guyana for example), the opposition would have obtained 8 out of the 30 seats. In parliamentary democracy the opposition fulfils an important role of overseeing the rule party. They can fill motions in parliament and sit on important commissions. Presently they are located out from any participation. Do you really think this is a good development? I hope that MP Mottley is having similar thoughts. This would in my opinion qualify her as a visionary and inclusive politician. Time will tell!

  • wally n  On 01/25/2022 at 4:18 pm

    “, she will be turfed by the 27% ” that is four/five years, a lot of damage can be done..No Government, none will ever give up power,for any reason.
    I have no faith or care for any Caribbean Country, people must demand realistic specifics, and time constraints, then maybe politicians start working for the people.
    Some of the promises made by the PM will require huge capital, partnering with private sector, PS always comes out winners.
    I wish Barbados and most of the Caribbean countries best of luck, but I can see huge debt, and dark days ahead.
    BTW lil personal, but I know this attitude towards over time flowed from the top down, and I wonder how many people know, even before oil, that many associations held their meetings, and spent their vacations in Guyana, why, nice people,good food, AFFORDABLE!!!

  • wic  On 01/26/2022 at 2:14 pm

    Dr. B. and Wally, I hear you both. It remains a fact however, that PR in Guyana doesn’t appear to have benefited the country as accomplishments by various govts. don’t support it as a model for the Caribbean in particular, prosperous and peaceful Barbados.

    As for sitting on committees etc, that’s very idealistic but unlikely to be productive among Guyanese. Most even among those supporting the same cause, feel the need to speak whether or not what they say advances progress on the subject matter, and in any case, support is always be along party lines not common sense/prudence/technical knowldge.

    While times will change and damage can conceivably done to the Barbadian economy over the next 4/5 years, Motley’s track record at this time doesn’t suggest such anytime soon. There is little for her to nationalize and she knows very well of Guyana’s dalliance in that area and will need to live with adverse consequences should she fail. Moving forward, a referendum on PR is likely to fail unless Motley proposes it and most likely, only should she perceive her party’s support is slipping badly. Not ethical; however, all political leaders see their responsibility as keeping their party in power, not to be nice.

    Of course, lots of groups visit Guyana for vacation etc. and visitors do have a great time, but the old saying remains true, “come see me is one thing but come live with me is something else”. There is not one item of food in Guyana not readily available in New York, Toronto or Brixton, England except for the gilbacker fish which is not always in stock. The sad fact Wally, is there is also too much crime of various types for anything other than a brief visit, if one wishes to leave unscathed; and now there is a fire bug on the loose.

  • wally n  On 01/26/2022 at 3:04 pm

    Must admit you can be…..sometimes right, subject matter too complex, for me, I will not do in depth research, I depend on some people you,the doc..Unfortunately time will prove right or wrong.
    I do have cousins in Barbados, knew their parents, one is very strong advocate for his country,downside a liberal, I am glad he/them do not know how I feel about their country.
    I think you glazed over one fact, island food is crap, most successful restaurants started with or have Guyanese chefs, well at least in Toronto

  • brandli62  On 01/27/2022 at 5:12 pm

    @Wic: I agree that PR can have its own problems as demonstrated for example in Guyana. I see two problems here. 1) Guyana is a strongly polarised country (Afro- vs Indo-Guyanese) with very little culture of reaching out and looking for a compromise across the aisle. 2) The PR system practiced in Guyana is one, where the electorate only can choose between party lists. It cannot cast votes for specific candidates. After the election, the party heads choose who will become MPs. This is not ideal and all the power rests with the party executives. I would modify the Guyanese PR system as follows:

    1) PR using an open list system with panachage option. In party-list proportional representation multiple candidates are elected through their position on an electoral list. The open list system is any variant of party-list proportional representation where voters have at least some influence on the order in which a party’s candidates are elected. They can remove candidates or add candidates from other parties to the party list. In addition to being able to distribute their votes between different lists (panachage), voters may add names to lists, and/or delete one or more of the names appearing on others. Using this system, the mandate of a particular MP is backed directly by voter preference.

    2) I would introduce changes in the constitution that put any law passed by parliament subject to a facultative popular referendum. How does this work? If you as a citizen or party do not agree with a new law passed by the ruling party in parliament, you can collect signatures from 10’000 eligible voters and ask for popular vote. Sounds like complicated, but in reality the ruling party will try to pass laws that have a broad consensus in the population. If not, they run the risk of loosing the popular vote. I believe that this modification could force the two parties in Guyana to search more for consensus in directing the future of the nation.

  • wally n  On 01/27/2022 at 8:42 pm

    Alrightee.then….WE have a huge problem, and an excellent solution. Now how are we gonna get, the Mountain to Muhammad? Lets hear it.

  • wic  On 01/28/2022 at 3:30 pm

    I concur that changes to the constitution as recommended by Dr. B, would go a long way towards solving many of the problems which plague Guyana’s electoral system and fair representation of the people’s choices. Such of course, requires a very sophisticated approach to problem solving that is alien to most world leaders other than say, in Scandinavia(which by now Dr. B, you will realize I have great respect for).

    As such, I don’t have confidence your recommended constitution amendments would be introduced in Guyana any time soon; as Wally notes in old Guyanese parlance, how will we get the Mountain to Muhammed? compromise of that ilk s just not in the DNA of Guyana leaders.

  • brandli62  On 01/29/2022 at 7:11 am

    @wic: I share your view that implementing the suggested changes to the Guyanese constitution will probably not happen any time soon. In my opinion, it would need a political figures of the statue of Nelson Mandela, who could bring people together without antagonizing, for such a vision. I cannot see any body out there that would fit such a bill, not even remotely. Alternatively, the civil society could provide the impetus.

    In Switzerland, where I live most of the time, it took a short civil war in 1848 to turn Switzerland from a loose confederation of independent cantons to a federal state with a political system based on consensus finding. Once this had happened Switzerland got onto the path of becoming one of the most prosperous states in the world and this without any natural resources.

    We’ll have to see how genuine AG Nandall is with his plans of electoral and constitutional reform. This will only be successful, if it were inclusive and would have all stakeholders at the table. Given the evidence from 18 months of the Ali administration in power, I am however not very hopeful. There is currently no culture of compromising and finding solutions that benefit the majority of the Guyanese.

    • wic  On 01/30/2022 at 1:25 pm

      Dr. B, when distilled, our views are actually very similar to each other except you may be more optimistic than me. I had lived in Guyana when it had its “troubles” in the early 60’s before Independence; I left, studied in Canada, returned and had to leave again. From what I can see, things views haven’t changed only that the distrust/discord remains just below the surface and sad to say, many migrants have taken same to the wherever they have settled.

      The appearance on the scene of a Mandela-like leader would be ideal but after he passes, what follows? it would be back to square one unless he were to bring on board like-minded individuals if available. Marshall Tito tried in 1948? by force of arms but the Federation collapsed on his passing with a brutal ethnic war which followed.

      I wish the country and its people well; I sincerely hope that somehow, sometime there will be a change of heart among the leaders which will pave the way for harmony and a fair share of the economic benefits to all.

      • brandli62  On 01/31/2022 at 8:23 am

        Wic, have a look a today’s opinion by Ronald Sanders published first Kaieteur News and posted on GO:

        Proportional Representation in elections – key to democratic representation

        It’s water on my mill!

      • wic  On 02/01/2022 at 1:45 pm

        Thanks. I smiled after initially scanning Sir. Ron’s comments which support what you propose and later, having read same closely, concluded his proposals were similar but didn’t go as far yours.

        My difficulty remains perhaps due to personal experience and observations with individuals many of whom, rarely seem capable of agreeing to cooperate for the benefit of all and recent events show no change.

        A case in point is the standoff among the opposition party leadership where Harmon appears to be person of choice by most members to be leader of the party and representative in parliament. Yet, Granger the former President, now ill, and due to some technically which I don’t understand, continues to stall on signing off thus preventing Harman from taking his seat in parliament.

        Frankly, It’s beyond me as to why anyone in Harmon place, would wish to hang in under such circumstances unless, for the need to attain the brass ring of power which I suppose lies in the heart of all politicians.

        How can PR provide full representative benefit for all across the political spectrum, when a former President has the legal capacity to block the assent of his party’s choice for parliament? For PR to work effectively in Guyana or any country for that matter, integrity and the willingness to compromise must be copious and not cultural deficient.

  • wally n  On 02/01/2022 at 3:11 pm

    I think if Guyana has an up to date voters list, it can be used as a means to have the referendum, it might be harder for the Party in power to over react negatively, for fear of repercussions, not only from Guyanese home and abroad, but also from the International Press. Dreaming lil bit??

    • kamtanblog  On 02/02/2022 at 4:38 am

      Bro Wally.
      The lyrics of a Brazilian carnival comes to mind
      “Dream on its free”
      Dreams do come through …….
      Frees up the mind ! Wipes the slate !
      Turns the page !


      K UK

  • wic  On 02/02/2022 at 1:10 pm

    Kam, Wally is very optimistic and he is to be commended for hoping that the best will come from the hearts of men/women who are in fact, capable of great evil. His proposal of having a current voters’ list is a good start; however, unless matched with a legitimate govt. issued ID at the polling booth, it will not preclude fraud.

    In fact, I recall during the mid 70’s in Guyana, stories of individuals being driven from one polling station to another by the cadres of a certain political party, so they could vote more than once. In addition to being given meals, it is said they were provided with a liquid solution to remove the so-called indelible red ink that was put onto their thumbs at the polling booth when they voted. I also knew of someone who, when he tried to vote, was told he had already voted. When he complained, he was chased away and threatened with arrest and yet, the poll attendants were working with a current voters’ list.

    What is noteworthy of late, is that the rigging of elections is becoming prevalent in some countries where such was previously unknown, effectively, ignoring the will of the people regardless of whether voting was done under PR or FPP. A shame on us all that democracy is slipping backwards and it doesn’t auger well for the future.

  • brandli62  On 02/02/2022 at 3:24 pm

    Wic, regarding the general elections 2021, I had made my opinion public here on Guyanese Online:

    Guyana Elections: Are 460’035 votes cast in the 2020 general elections credible? – Opinion

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