Stuart scores lowest poll ranking ever for a Barbados prime minister
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday May 23, 2012 – A controversial new survey, indicating strong dissatisfaction with the performance of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), has provoked mixed reactions from the public.
Findings of the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) public opinion poll suggest that the Freundel Stuart-led DLP, which came to power in January 2008, could well be a one-term government. General elections are constitutionally due in less than a year.
Aired in last weekend’s Sunday Sun by the Nation Publishing Company, and conducted by CADRES Director Peter Wickham, the poll results indicate a marked shift toward former three-term prime minister and present leader of the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Owen Arthur.
Out of some 1,080 respondents to the survey, which was conducted across the existing 30 parliamentary constituencies, just 29 percent gave a favourable approval rating to Prime Minister Stuart for his performance as head of government. A solid 43 percent recorded a negative vote.
When asked to identify the "preferred prime minister", the winning nod went to opposition leader and economist Arthur. He received almost 30 percent of the votes (29.8) compared with Stuart's scant 10 percent (9.9), which represented the lowest ranking ever for a sitting Barbados prime minister.
Bridging the gap between the two were Mia Mottley, a former deputy prime minister and attorney-general in a past BLP administration, who copped the second preferential spot; and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler who ranked third in the CADRES poll.
Stuart, a lawyer by profession, succeeded the late Prime Minister and DLP leader David Thompson who died in October 2010 from cancer at age 48.
The CADRES poll results, dominating the front page of the newspaper under the headline "It's Owen", came on the eve of Stuart hosting his first-ever regional summit of CARICOM leaders gathered in Barbados for the Second Mexico-CARICOM Summit.
Coming out slugging in defence of the ruling party was Minister of Housing Michael Lashley.
“When you examine our work, Barbadians cannot fault our performance, given the constraints and the environment in which we had to act. So you have to go out there in your numbers and fight for this great party. Polls don’t vote,” he told a meeting of the party faithful.
The poll comes against the backdrop of three Caribbean governments being restricted to one-term governance since November last year: the United Workers Party in St Lucia, the Jamaica Labour Party, and earlier this month the Free National Movement in the Bahamas.
The focus now falls on the possibility of similar electoral incidents in Barbados and Grenada, the latter for the incumbent National Democratic Congress of embattled Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who recently survived a no-confidence motion in parliament and is grappling with a series of resignations from his cabinet.