Friday, 8 February 2013

The air smells quite rare!!!

There is a scent in the air. A very rare scent. A scent that comes floating along technically every four years.
A scent that some people love, but yet is abhorred by others.
Personally, the scent no longer tickles my nostrils like in days gone by. Maybe I have become accustomed to its lingering and sometimes odorous smell.
What scent is this you may ask.....the scent of thirty candidates "nit picking" and degrading each other in order to earn a seat in Parliament to represent the good people of this island.
Elections are in the air!!
Elections have been called finally by the Prime Minister, and Election day is February 21, 2013.
Barbadians will be going to the polls on this day to vote for who they think is the right choice to run the country.

In Barbados, the Prime Minister may call general elections at any time. 
This element of spontaneity to the electoral process is unique from other systems in the world where voting dates are fixed on the calendar. 
Once the Prime Minister decides to call a general election, he will then go to see the Governor General to request that Parliament be dissolved according to The Constitution of Barbados.

The formal campaign is a relatively short-lived affair. By law, the Prime Minister must give a minimum of three weeks and a maximum of six weeks' notice for a general election, however, informal campaigning starts much earlier. 
There are two political parties in Barbados, namely the Democratic Labour Party (in power now), and the Barbados Labour Party (Opposition party).

Both parties then go about preparing their manifestos which sets out the party's policies on major issues and their agreed views and principles.

Immediately following the announcement on January 30, 2013, The Opposition party (BLP) had their posters placed on any available surface, utility poles, trees, walls etc, and large billboards with their candidate photos. They were ready for the fight.
A few days later, the DLP had their posters up as well.

Utility pole in my neighbourhood.
Our current representative (DLP) on the bottom poster
(He who resurfaced our road and gave us proper drainage)

 Posters on trees
 Woe betide posters of other representatives in anothers stronghold constituency.
They are ceremoniously ripped off.
Large billboards

Extra large billboards

Political meeting schedules were also advertised. The political meetings are night time affairs, and are held in popular areas with large voter registrations. They are mostly advertised by vehicles with loud speakers announcing the time and location  of the meetings accompanied by blaring but catchy ditties composed and sung by popular calypsonians just for the occasion.
The meetings have an air of festivity to them. A large platform may be erected near to a favourite rum shop, school, church etc, and each candidate will then take turns speaking to those gathered to cajole them why they should vote for them and their party. The shop owners "make a killing" (good earnings) as we say here, when the meetings are held in their area. Folks show up with their folding chairs and coolers and settle down to a night of pompasetting (showing off) and rhetoric by the speakers.
Everyone in the crowd is a wannabe political pundit.  Some folks can be persuaded quite easily with empty promises.  I have not attended a political meeting in donkey years. No need to, I can hear every meeting that is held in my neighbourhood since the sound travels upward and engulfs me on the hill where I live. Only thing missing is the ambiance of the crowd and all the hilarious banter that is ritualistic at these meetings.

Anyone can have discourse with their parliamentary representative, because they have their own offices in the neighbourhood with an open-door policy.
 Folks with problems, ranging from housing to jobs to schooling can all be taken up with one's minister and have it acted upon....or not.
Now is the time when folks make even more visits to these offices, because they know that their vote is important, so promises ensue on both sides.

Representative office in my neighbourhood (BLP)

A little information for you to digest:
Barbados is divided into 30 electoral districts or constituencies. Voters in each constituency elect one member of parliament (MP) to send to the House of Assembly. There are two main political parties in Barbados. Each party nominates one candidate for each constituency. Independent candidates may also stand for elections.
The party that wins the most constituencies is asked by the Governor General to form the government. The leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister. If the party wins in more than 16 constituencies, it will have a majority government, which makes it much easier to get legislation passed in the House. If the winning party has fewer than 16 seats, it forms a minority government. In order to get legislation through the House, a minority government usually has to adjust policies to get enough votes from MPs of other parties.
The party that has the second highest number of seats in the House of Assembly is called the Official Opposition.

I have received my letter from the Supervisor of Elections, Electoral and Boundaries Commission instructing me of the location of my polling station.

All I need to do now, is show up on election day at my polling station with acceptable identification and place my secret ballot in the box.
You can rest assured that Barbados will be a hive of political activity until that day.


  1. It was only in, I think, 2011 that the UK had fixed elections (with certain exceptions). Until then it was the same as the Barbados system and the PM could call an election at any time. That was a very informative and, particularly for me (I studied public administration at Uni, worked in government and was a Returning Office) very interesting description of your system. Much appreciated. As for politicians.....'nuf said.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post GB. I did not realise that the UK system had changed to fixed elections like the US...very interesting.
      I totally agree with you about politicians....'nuf said.

  2. We just finished our elections and I was so glad. I'm very happy Obama won but I was sick of all the ads, even his. I was so tired of all the false statements and negativity. May the best candidate win! Hopefully, it will be a woman next time! Enough with the men!

  3. Even though I don't live in the US, my television viewing is all US-based, so I was also bombarded with all the election ads.
    My girlfriend in VA told me a funny story about two neighbours during the US election period. I've asked her to write a guest post, since the story is so freaking hilarious, but alas she has not done so as yet. Suffice to say it dealt with each neighbour placing bigger and bigger billboards in their yards to outdo each other.
    As for our elections here, don't think we'll end up with a woman Prime Minister anytime soon.


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