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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN1696
2006-09-22 20:48:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

EARLY LOOK AT THE NEXT BARBADOS ELECTION

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINR  ECON  ELAB  BB  XL 
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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWN #1696/01 2652048
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 222048Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3366
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1499
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 001696 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CAR
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR ECON ELAB BB XL
SUBJECT: EARLY LOOK AT THE NEXT BARBADOS ELECTION

REF: A. BRIDGETOWN 1623

B. BRIDGETOWN 239

Classified By: DCM MARY ELLEN T. GILROY for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: Peter Wickham, a political insider and a
well-connected political consultant based in Barbados (ref
B), gives the opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) a good
chance of winning the next election, expected in the second
half of 2007. The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) could fall
victim to its own success, having controlled the government
for the past 12 years, which in Wickham's estimation is "too
long." Public dissatisfaction over issues such as
transportation, housing, and crime will also play into the
DLP's hands, but the DLP may need to broaden its message to
attract the votes and support it will need. End Summary.

DLP's Election to Lose


--------------------------




2. (C) In a recent meeting with PolOff, Wickham assessed the
current political situation in Barbados as generally
favorable to the DLP. Wickham readily admitted to being
closer to the DLP than the BLP when it comes to his work as a
political consultant and his personal politics, but his
extensive and widely recognized experience in Caribbean
politics make him a credible source. Wickham attributed the
DLP's good prospects not to DLP's agenda or political
strategy, but to the fact that there is growing public
weariness with a government that has been in power for 12
years. In short, DLP may win the next election because it is
not BLP.



3. (C) Wickham was, in fact, quite open about the
shortcomings of the DLP and its leader, David Thompson, whom
Wickham called a personal friend (ref A). Thompson,
according to Wickham, suffers from an image problem, which he
will have to address before his campaign kicks into full
swing. He is perceived more as a Machiavellian political
operator than as a statesman and experienced leader ready for
the premiership. Thompson has also been less focused on
developing concrete policies and solutions to address the
problems he is seeking to highlight in advance of the
election, including transportation, housing, land ownership,
and crime. However, Wickham did not think that these
weaknesses would seriously impede Thompson's campaign.

BLP's Time Running Out?


--------------------------




4. (C) Wickham acknowledged that Prime Minister Owen Arthur
and his BLP have been largely successful in leading the
country over the past 12 years. However, this success may
have contributed to a certain complacency or, as David
Thompson has charged, arrogance in their approach to
governing. Wickham speculated that the next election will be
decided not by the number of voters who come to the polls,
but by the number of voters who choose to stay away rather
than re-elect Prime Minister Arthur. By Wickham's
estimation, there will be many--or at least enough--such
non-voters to hand Thompson the victory.

But Mia's Time Will Come


--------------------------




5. (C) The BLP could win easily, according to Wickham, if
Prime Minister Arthur would step down before the next
election in favor of his heir apparent, Mia Mottley, the
Deputy Prime Minister. Wickham noted Mottley's immense
popularity in Barbados, as well as her political skills,
which include a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue. In
Wickham's opinion, PM Arthur also recognizes Mottley's star
power and will continue to "bask in her glow," but he is
determined to keep a firm grip on the BLP reins. He is also
not above taking an occasional swipe against Mottley.
Wickham is convinced that PM Arthur's recent public focus on
family values was aimed indirectly at Mottley, who is widely
believed to be gay. Wickham thought that the best thing for
Mottley would, in fact, be a BLP loss in the next election,
which would force Prime Minister Arthur to retire and allow
Mottley to take over the BLP. Wickham had no doubt that
Mottley would eventually become the prime minister of
Barbados.

Comment


--------------------------




6. (C) Wickham at one point noted that Thompson could win
the next election "with his hands tied behind his back."
That is probably overstating Thompson's popularity and skill,
and underestimating Prime Minister Arthur and the BLP.
Thompson is working hard to show Barbadian voters that the
DLP has exorcised its demons, it is united, and it is ready
to govern. However, Thompson's shadow cabinet is no match
for Prime Minister Arthur's team which, despite some
missteps, has a good overall track record. Furthermore,
while attacking the BLP on issues like housing and land
ownership may resonate with some in the electorate, Thompson
may be risking the support of wealthy political contributors,
many of whom have profited from the local real estate boom.
Since political parties in Barbados, as in other parts of the
Caribbean, are largely bankrolled such supporters, Thompson
may need to rethink his current populist course in order to
broaden his appeal.
KRAMER