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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN1879
2006-10-26 10:28:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

BARBADOS: EARLY ELECTIONS RUMORED

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINR  ECON  BB  XL 
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DE RUEHWN #1879 2991028
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R 261028Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3574
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 001879 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CAR
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR ECON BB XL
SUBJECT: BARBADOS: EARLY ELECTIONS RUMORED

REF: BRIDGETOWN 1708

Classified By: DCM MARY ELLEN T. GILROY FOR REASONS 1.4 (a) AND (d).



1. (C) Summary: Although Barbados' next parliamentary
election is not constitutionally due until 2008, rumors are
swirling in the media and among the political commentariat
that Prime Minister Owen Arthur is considering calling early
elections, perhaps even this fall. If he does decide to call
early elections, Prime Minister Arthur will be well
positioned to win a fourth term, an unprecedented feat in
post-independence Barbados politics. End Summary.



2. (C) Barbados was among the 2007 Cricket World Cup (CWC)
host countries that pledged to focus all energies on CWC
preparations and hold no elections or other large events
before the CWC matches in March and April of 2007. It is
likely that St. Lucia will hold elections this fall, and
Barbados may also break the pledge and follow suit. Media
and embassy contacts have speculated in recent weeks that
Prime Minister Arthur may call early elections to capitalize
on the favorable opinion of Barbadian voters toward him and
his government (reftel).



3. (U) Barbados' two major parties, the ruling Barbados Labor
Party (BLP) and the opposition Democratic Labor Party (DLP),
are leaving nothing to chance. Since early September, they
have both appeared to be in full campaign mode. The airwaves
and newsprint have been filled with the parties' messages,
attacks, and counterattacks on the handful of issues that a
recent poll showed to be of key concern to the voters: cost
of living, economy, unemployment, crime, and housing. When
the DLP launched a series of townhall-style constituency
meetings in early September, the BLP quickly followed with
its own series of "conversations with the nation."



4. (U) Both parties have nearly completed their slates of
candidates for the next election. The DLP has also beefed up
its campaign staff with political strategists, including the
prominent political consultant and commentator Hartley Henry,
who has devoted a number of his weekly newspaper columns to
skewering the Arthur government on a variety of issues. The
BLP, on the other hand, has sought to use every advantage of
being the party in government by announcing new government
construction projects, including housing for the poor and
roads. The BLP is also shoring up its image as the party
with a solid plan for Barbados' future by launching a
parliamentary debate on its National Strategic Plan.



5. (C) Comment: Some of those trying to read the political
tea leaves have speculated that Prime Minister Arthur could
make the election announcement as early as October 29, when
he addresses the BLP's annual conference. Others, however,
believe that he will wait until after the holidays and
announce the elections for late January. Despite the
CWC-related pledge, early elections would certainly make
sense from Prime Minister Arthur's perspective. Leading his
closest oppoinent by 20 points in recent polling, Arthur is
by far the most popular politician in Barbados. Naturally,
he may therefore prefer to fight the next election at the
height of his popularity. He may also want an early vote to
deny the DLP time to convince more voters that the party has
regrouped and is ready and fit to govern. Finally, with some
of the country's economic fundamentals weakening, Prime
Minister Arthur may want to seek an early reelection before
the necessary economic belt-tightening, which will likely
come after the CWC. End Comment.
KRAMER