wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN1708
2006-09-25 21:20:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

PRIME MINISTER ARTHUR'S POPULARITY RISES

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINR  BB  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO9604
RR RUEHGR
DE RUEHWN #1708/01 2682120
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 252120Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3380
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1504
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRIDGETOWN 001708 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CAR
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR BB XL
SUBJECT: PRIME MINISTER ARTHUR'S POPULARITY RISES


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRIDGETOWN 001708

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CAR
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR BB XL
SUBJECT: PRIME MINISTER ARTHUR'S POPULARITY RISES



1. SUMMARY: In a public opinion poll published over the
weekend, Prime Minister Owen Arthur and his Barbados Labour
Party (BLP) came out as clear winners. The poll demonstrates
that the opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and its
leader, David Thompson, face an uphill battle in their effort
to unseat the BLP in the next parliamentary election, which
is expected in late 2007. Prime Minister Arthur's surging
popularity, however, does not mean that there are no problems
on the horizon. Paradoxically, the poll showed widespread
dissatisfaction with the government's performance on key
issues, including cost of living, employment, transportation,
and housing. The government will therefore have to act
quickly to address these issues and demonstrate that 12 years
in power have not sapped its energy and motivation. End
Summary.

Good News for the BLP
--------------


2. On September 24, the Nation daily's "Sunday Sun,"
published the results of its annual public opinion poll,
which was conducted the previous weekend in the 30
constituencies of Barbados. The poll results were mostly
good news for Prime Minister Arthur and the BLP. The one
thousand poll respondents clearly preferred Prime Minister
Arthur over other potential candidates for the premiership.
The Prime Minister saw his popularity surge to 49 percent,
from last year's 33 percent. He was followed by the
opposition's Thompson with 29 percent, Deputy Prime Minister
Mia Mottley with 15 percent, and the Junior Finance Minister
Clyde Mascoll with 4 percent. If the elections were held
today, the BLP would win with 36 percent of the vote, trailed
by the DLP with 22 percent. However, with 42 percent of
those polled claiming to be "uncertain," there is significant
room for change in Barbados' political landscape.

But Some Hope for DLP
--------------


3. The poll showed that despite Prime Minister Arthur's
popularity, his government's performance is viewed less
positively when it comes to specific issues. The poll's
respondents, including those claiming to be BLP supporters,

gave the government mediocre marks for its handling of issues
such as cost of living, employment, transportation, and
housing. In his recent public statements, Thompson has
sought to exploit this dissatisfaction by focusing on the
government's uninspiring performance. However, to translate
this potential opportunity into concrete votes, Thompson will
have to convince voters that he and his DLP team would be
better prepared to handle these challenges.


4. Another potentially good news for the DLP is the split
among those polled on the need for change in the government.
While 36 percent expressed satisfaction with the BLP-led
government, 38 percent thought that it was time for change.
Slightly over 26 percent of the poll's respondents were
undecided. The Barbadians' weariness with Prime Minister
Arthur's government, which has been in power for 12 years,
may present an opening for Thompson and the DLP. In recent
weeks, Thompson has repeatedly attacked the government for
becoming entrenched and unresponsive to the people's needs.

Trouble for the Next Generation of Leaders?
--------------


5. Mia Mottley and Clyde Mascoll both saw their popularity
drop since last year's poll. Mottley's support fell to 15
percent from last year's 22 percent, and Mascoll saw his
popularity slide from 10 percent in 2005 to 4 percent this
year. Given that David Thompson also failed to improve his
popularity standing, the poll seems to indicate that
Barbadians are not especially enthusiastic about the next
generation of political leaders. While the reasons for this
lackluster performance on the part of the three vary,
Mottley's drop in popularity is especially surprising because
she was generally perceived as one of the BLP's--and the
country's--rising stars.

COMMENT
--------------


6. The "Sunday Sun" poll provides a good baseline as
Barbados' two major parties begin to make their case to the
voters in the run-up to the 2007 election. Prime Minister
Arthur's strong showing should further bolster his standing

BRIDGETOWN 00001708 002 OF 002


within his own party and with the public. While the poll was
undoubtedly a disappointment for the DLP and its leader David
Thompson, there is some chance that they could still
translate the public's dissatisfaction with the issues into
votes. So far, the DLP has provided few details on the
policy alternatives it is offering. Several observers of
local politics have already commented on the lack of
fundamental ideological and policy differences between the
BLP and the DLP. Consequently, filling the DLP's policy void
may prove difficult, if not impossible. The result could
therefore be more aggressive attacks on the government's
record, and less debate over solutions to the country's
problems.
KRAMER