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Poll lessons

Wickham suggests Freundel Stuart government must take note of Antigua result

The punishing results of yesterday’s general election in neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda for former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and his United Progressive Party (UPP) signal that the “writing is on the wall” for the Freundel Stuart administration, says political scientist and pollster Peter Wickham.

 The director of the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), whose organization accurately predicted the outcome of yesterday’s election in St John’s, said Barbadians should sit up and take note of the poll that swept the Gaston Browne-led Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party into office after ten years in the political wilderness.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Wickham contended that there were distinct similarities between the leadership style of Prime Minister Stuart and his former Antiguan counterpart Spencer that ultimately resulted in the UPP leader losing power after two terms in office.


Peter Wickham

Peter Wickham

“So questions of communication, questions of addressing issues, questions of slowness to act . . .  I think [were some of] the greatest concerns of Baldwin Spencer and his style of leadership, which is not very different from Prime Minister Stuart,” explained Wickham.

“Spencer is perhaps a little speedier, but it’s the same general approach to life. Nice people, but one often wonders if the pace at which they move is consistent with the wider population.”

In terms of yesterday’s vote, Wickham explained that in the 2009 poll, the UPP had narrowly won as Antiguans and Barbudans opted to give the government a second chance to address unfulfilled promises which he said it failed to adequately respond to.

“I believe that the signal the electorate sent in 2009, the UPP did not get it and I am thoroughly convinced the signals that the electorate sent to this Government in 2013 in Barbados, the Freundel Stuart administration has not started to get the signal yet, and certainly given the opportunity I think the result would be different from what we saw in 2013,” argued the pollster.

“When it [Barbados Government] faces the poll in another three years, the writing will certainly be on the wall, especially when you consider the response of the Antiguan population in 2009,” he added.

Wickham further suggested that the “inordinately long period” Spencer took in calling the elections may have hurt the UPP’s chances. 

The party only retained three of the 17 seats in the St John’s parliament and Wickham felt that the delay put the government in a position where it could not defend the state of the economy and niggling concerns about prevailing water shortages.

“I thought it was scandalous that a government could go into an election and people would be able to report that a major problem was a drought,” said Wickham, who noted that “a drought is something over which the government has no control”. 

However, “certainly the government has control over the timing of the election and I felt had they called the election late last year the results may very well have been very different . . . because you were in the tourist season, the drought had not kicked off in the way it has now, but essentially [the UPP] waited until June when the tourist season was over, [when] there are a lot of Antiguans who are at home not working any more and then you have niggling problems like water shortages”.

However, he noted that Prime Minister Gaston Browne will have his hands full since Antigua and Barbuda is due to take up the chairmanship of CARICOM in July.

“I think that would be a diplomatic opportunity for him of tremendous proportions so that will be interesting to see how he handles himself.

“He is the youngest ever leader of Antigua and Barbuda. I think he will be a person who will probably make decisions faster than Baldwin Spencer would have, and I think that it is the main thing that Antiguans will like.”


5 Responses to Poll lessons

  1. Gregston Griffith
    Gregston Griffith June 14, 2014 at 12:56 am

    WICKHAM STOP PREDICTION what will happen in Barbados in the next 3years or so. You is not God and only God know the future remember you used the call in program on VOB to say that what was happening in st lucia and jamacia will happen in barbados and it did not happen remember your poll say that Blp would haave won remember remember you say that the same PM call election too late and he should have call it in sep or nov of the previous year and you were wrong wrong wrong. so so spencer had 2 term and Antoqua is really a Bird land so what? Barbadian was always different than the other caribbean people and you know tha sir

    • D
      D'adrian Joseph June 14, 2014 at 1:01 am

      hahahhaah Barbados is always different from the other Caribbean people hmmmm

    • John Herbert
      John Herbert June 14, 2014 at 1:59 am

      Exactly Gregston, February 2013 still got them confuse…and they will make the same silly error again….stupse!!!

    • John Herbert
      John Herbert June 14, 2014 at 1:59 am

      Exactly Gregston, February 2013 still got them confuse…and they will make the same silly error again….stupse!!!

    • John Herbert
      John Herbert June 14, 2014 at 2:17 am

      Political lessons from Grenada and Barbados
      BY RICKEY SINGH, February 20, 2013

      “Indeed, if the predictions of the more notable pollsters prove correct — as expected — then a change in government should also take place in Barbados by Friday following tomorrow’s general election, with a return to state power by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s Labour Party (BLP).”

      We all know what happened!


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