Antigua Labour Party
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politics and government of
Antigua and Barbuda
The Antigua Labour Party (ALP) is a political party in Antigua and Barbuda. It has long been led by Lester Bird, who was chairman of the party since 1971, and became Prime Minister and political leader in 1994. The party was founded by Lester's father, V.C. Bird. The ALP has traditionally largely been seen as the political arm of the Bird family. With the exception of five years in the 1970s, the ALP ruled Antigua and Barbuda for over four decades. It was in opposition from 2004 to 2014, and it has been in power again since 2014.
Two major events precipitated the ALP's first defeat in 28 years in 2004. The first was the introduction of the Electoral Commission after the 1999 election. According to international observers, the 1999 election was rife with irregularities. Most notably, the report from the Commonwealth observer group concluded that "the voting rolls appeared to be inflated" and recommended "the establishment of an independent electoral commission to improve the voter registration process." The second was the Medical Benefits Scandal. Under the watch of the ALP Government, the government of Antigua and Barbuda failed to contribute EC$120 million to cover recipients' medical expenses.
The opposition United Progressive Party campaigned on an anti-corruption platform they called "Government in the Sunshine." After 28 years in power, the ALP was widely perceived to be corrupt and that corruption along with the establishment of free and fair elections in Antigua and Barbuda led to their defeat.
The ALP lost its majority in the general election held on 24 March 2004. It received 41.8% of the popular vote, but only four out of 17 seats. ALP Prime Minister and political leader Lester Bird was also defeated in his constituency.
In early 2009, the Antigua Labour Party faced an internal leadership crisis. The ageing Lester Bird announced that if the ALP failed to win the forthcoming 2009 general election, he would step down. There had been speculation that even if the ALP won the 2009 election, Bird's leadership would be challenged. Nevertheless, as of December 2011, Bird remains ALP leader.
- "US State Department Human Rights Report", 23 February 2000
- "Fraud". Miami Herald, 4 April 2002
- "Bird to call it quits if ALP fails at polls", Antigua Sun, 30 December 2008
- "Who's the Leader" Da Garat, 11 January 2009[unreliable source?]
- "Bird said he is ready for court challenge to electoral law". Antigua Observer. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
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