Belizean general and local elections, 2012

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Belizean general election, 2012
Belize
2008 ←
7 March 2012 → Next

All 31 seats in the Belize House of Representatives
  First party Second party
  Dean Barrow
PUP
Leader Dean Barrow Francis Fonseca
Party UDP PUP
Leader since 1998 2011
Leader's seat Queen's Square Freetown
Last election 25 seats 6 seats
Seats won 17 seats 14 seats
Seat change Decrease8 Increase8
Popular vote 66,203 61,329
Percentage 50.37% 47.54%
Swing Decrease6.24 Increase6.82

Prime Minister before election

Dean Barrow
UDP

Elected Prime Minister

Dean Barrow
UDP

Coat of arms of Belize.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Belize

General and local elections were held simultaneously in Belize on 7 March 2012[1] to elect 31 MPs. The election was run by the Elections and Boundaries Commission's Elections and Boundaries Department. Dean Barrow and his United Democratic Party (UDP) were re-elected, but lost eight seats to the opposition People's United Party (PUP) to have a one seat majority.[2][3]

In the local elections, the UDP won six municipalities, while the PUP won three municipalities.

Parties[edit]

Prime Minister Dean Barrow's United Democratic Party (UDP) is the incumbent in the election with his party holding 25 at dissolution. The opposition People's United Party (PUP), led by Francis Fonseca since late 2011, holds the other seats in parliament. An unrepresented coalition of smaller parties are running in nine constituencies under the banner of the Belize Unity Alliance.[4]

Campaign[edit]

The UDP's primary campaign promise was to renegotiate the terms of a US$550 million bond repayment, which Barrow said would be his first task if re-elected. The bond accounts for 40% of Belize's economic output and half of Belize's debt, which is the 13th most indebted state in the world. The interest on the debt is scheduled to cost US$46 million in the year, which is 12% of the country's revenues and has affected the ability to raise future funds after credit rating agencies downgraded the sovereign credit status to "junk." Conversely, Fonseca said that he would abide by the obligation to pay off the debt with promises to grow the country's current US$1.25 billion economy.

Another campaign theme was the issue of oil drilling off the coast of the country within proximity of the Belize Barrier Reef after Belize started exporting oil in 2006; however, opinion polls showed opposition to further oil exploration. Barrow promised to hold a referendum on the issue, while Fonseca pledged a moratorium over continued exploration.

The Belize Unity Alliance actively campaigned in such locales as San Pedro, the biggest town on Ambergris Caye, off the Belize coast, supporting independent candidates and calling for votes for the party.[4]

Unofficial referendum[edit]

On 29 February, Oceana, a member of the Belize Coalition to Save Our National Heritage, held an informal referendum that they called the "People's Referendum". The "referendum" consisted of 51 polling stations, including two mobile polling stations, manned by volunteers over the issue of oil drilling. A previous attempt to hold the referendum alongside the election was rejected after 40% of the petitioned signatures were disqualified due to double signatories and mismatched names with the official voter rolls. The voter turnout was 28,000. The group's vice president, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, said that the referendum sought to use "the law to force the government to hear the people."

Opinion polls[edit]

Opinion polls suggested a tight race with many undecided voters.[4][5]

A poll conducted on 17 February, the day of nominations for running in the election, by former politician Derek Aikman, showed that the UDP held a majority of 16 seats and the PUP leading in nine seats, including Orange Walk Central, which they had won in the last poll; Fort George, Pickstock, Belize Rural South, Corozal Southeast, Corozal Bay, Cayo North, Cayo West, and Orange Walk North. The UDP's led in Queen’s Square, Port Loyola, Caribbean Shores, Mesopotamia, Collet, Lake Independence, Corozal North, Belmopan, Cayo Northeast, Cayo Central, and Orange Walk South. The other seats that could play the role of kingmaker included Albert, Freetown, Belize Rural North and Central, Dangriga and Stann Creek West, Toledo East and West, Corozal Southwest, Cayo South and Orange Walk East.

Another poll by Aikman on 2 March showed a large lead for the UDP, though many voters were willing to support PUP. The poll was of 8,847 voters, or 4.97%. The UDP's 15% lead in the nomination day poll fell to a 4% gap with a lead of 30% to 26% on 2 March. The BUA also recorded 1% support in the Belize Rural South and Belmopan. Undecided voters were at 43%.[5]

Monitors[edit]

An Organization of American States (OAS) monitoring group would observe the poll. The team was led by the former US Ambassador to Honduras Frank Almaguer; the team also comprised observers from Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Martinique, Mexico, the United States and Venezuela. The Organization of American States Electoral Observation Mission (OAS/EOM) would be present in all six departments.[5]

Election[edit]

The total number of eligible voters was 178,054, out of a population of just over 300,000. There were 74 total candidates and 320 polling stations. For the simultaneous local elections, 97,979 of the voters had the choice to choose from 170 candidates at 168 of the polling stations.[5]


e • d Summary of the 7 March 2012 Belizean House of Representatives election results
Parties Votes % Seats
United Democratic Party 64,976 50.37 17
People's United Party 61,329 47.54 14
People's National Party 828 0.64
Independents 822 0.64
Vision Inspired by the People 382 0.30
Total valid votes 128,999 100.00 31
Invalid votes 1,259
Total votes cast (turnout 73.16%) 130,258
Registered voters 178,054

Source: Elections and Boundaries Department[6]

By constituency[edit]

Electoral Divisions Number of
Registered Voters
Total Votes Cast Percentage of
Voter Turnout
Candidates Political Party Number
of Votes
Percentage of
Votes By Party
Caribbean Shores 5117 3363 65.72% Santino "Santi" Castillo UDP 2001 59.50%
David Hoy PUP 1325 39.40%
rejected 37 1.10%
Freetown 4230 2999 70.90% Lee Mark Chang UDP 1408 46.95%
Francis W. Fonseca PUP 1558 51.95%
rejected 33 1.10%
Pickstock 3243 1994 61.49% Wilfred "Sedi" Elrinton UDP 1038 52.06%
Francis Donald Smith PUP 956 47.94%
rejected 37 1.86%
Fort George 3133 1941 61.95% George Gough UDP 715 36.84%
Said Musa PUP 1202 61.93%
rejected 24 1.24%
Lake Independence 5145 3139 61% Carlos A. Diaz IND 223 7.10%
Martin Galvez PUP 1372 43.71%
Mark Anthony King UDP 1544 49.19%
rejected 0.00%
Albert 3180 1886 59.31% David Craig PUP 807 42.79%
Herman R. Longsworth UDP 1034 54.83%
rejected 45 2.39%
Collet 4627 3046 65.83% Patrick Jason Faber UDP 1949 63.99%
Carolyn "Ms. C" Trench- PUP 1060 34.80%
rejected 37 1.21%
Mesopotamia 3710 2256 60.81% Michael Finnegan UDP 1841 81.60%
Philip Palacio PUP 380 16.84%
rejected 35 1.55%
Queen's Square 3960 2577 65.08% Dean Oliver Barrow UDP 2039 79.12%
Anthony Glenford PUP 490 19.01%
rejected 48 1.86%
Port Loyola 4469 2830 63.33% Anthony "Boots" Martinez UDP 1789 63.22%
Gilroy Usher Sr. PUP 990 34.98%
rejected 51 1.80%
Belize Rural North 5404 3770 69.76% Edmond Castro UDP 2103 55.78%
Arthur Saldivar PUP 1568 41.59%
Rufus X PNP 49 1.30%
rejected 10 0.27%
Belize Rural South 7100 4861 68.46% Patty Arceo PUP 2026 41.68%
William "Mike" Campbell IND 24 0.49%
Jose Manuel "Junior" Heredia UDP 2479 51.00%
"Bobby" Robert Lopez VIP 332 6.83%
rejected 126 2.59%
Belize Rural Central 5920 3917 66.17% Dolores Balderamos PUP 2005 51.19%
Fred Hunter Sr. PNP 74 1.89%
Michael "Hutchy" Hutchinson UDP 1801 45.98%
rejected 37 0.94%
Orange Walk North 7061 5822 82.45% Jorge Alberto "George" PUP 2357 40.48%
Gaspar "Gapi" Vega UDP 3405 58.49%
rejected 60 1.03%
Orange Walk Central 6694 5198 77.65% Juan "Johnny" Antonio Briceño PUP 3042 58.52%
Denni Grijalva UDP 2156 41.48%
rejected 0.00%
Orange Walk East 6917 5257 76.00% Orlando Alexander UDP 2496 47.48%
Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez PUP 2761 52.52%
rejected 42 0.80%
Orange Walk South 6837 5621 82.21% Jose Abelardo Mai PUP 2968 52.80%
Rosendo "Chendo" Urbina UDP 2605 46.34%
rejected 48 0.85%
Cayo North 6213 4641 74.70% Marcel Bedran IND 191 4.12%
Salvador Fernandez UDP 1985 42.77%
Joseph Mahmud PUP 2382 51.33%
rejected 83 1.79%
Cayo South 6905 4677 67.73% Julius Espat PUP 2568 54.91%
Ramon Francisco Witz UDP 2109 45.09%
rejected 0.00%
Cayo West 6351 4898 77.12% Erwin Rafael Contreras UDP 3079 62.86%
Oscar Sabido PUP 1745 35.63%
rejected 74 1.51%
Cayo Central 7180 5900 82.17% Collet Emmanuel Montejo PUP 2478 42.00%
Rene Montero UDP 2522 42.75%
rejected 72 1.22%
Cayo North East 5548 4122 74.30% Orlando "Landy" Habet PUP 2034 49.34%
Elvin Penner UDP 2051 49.76%
rejected 37 0.90%
Belmopan 7780 5603 72.02% Amin Hegar PUP 2557 45.64%
John B. Saldivar UDP 2775 49.53%
Richard Smith PNP 230 4.10%
rejected 41 0.73%
Corozal North 6233 5152 82.66% Valdemar Isidro Castillo PUP 2464 47.83%
Hugo Amilcar Patt UDP 2673 51.88%
rejected 15 0.29%
Corozal South West 5745 4674 81.36% Angel Roberto Campos IND 384 8.22%
Gabriel Alberto Martinez UDP 2120 45.36%
Ramiro Ramirez PUP 2153 46.06%
rejected 17 0.36%
Corozal Bay 6237 4652 74.59% Gregorio "Papas" Garcia PUP 2192 47.12%
Pablo Marin UDP 2340 50.30%
Carlos Javier Sawers VIP 50 1.07%
rejected 70 1.50%
Corozal South East 6549 5609 85.65% Florencio Julian Marin PUP 2999 53.47%
Raul Fabian Rosado UDP 2587 46.12%
rejected 23 0.41%
Dangriga 5904 3827 64.82% Mateo Tomas Polanco PNP 37 0.97%
Ivan Micahel "Maca" PUP 2036 53.20%
Arthur William "Turo" UDP 1699 44.40%
rejected 56 1.46%
Stann Creek West 7888 6123 77.62% Rodwell Ferguson PUP 3272 53.44%
Melvin Hulse UDP 2698 44.06%
Charles Berisford Leslie Jr. PNP 127 2.07%
rejected 26 0.42%
Toledo West 6134 5068 82.62% Martin Ack PNP 29 0.57%
Juan Coy UDP 1858 36.66%
Oscar Requena PUP 3165 62.45%
rejected 16 0.32%
Toledo East 6640 4835 72.82% Michael Joseph Espat PUP 2417 49.99%
William Wil Maheia PNP 282 5.83%
Peter Eden Martinez UDP 2077 42.96%
rejected 59 1.22%

Source: Elections and Boundaries Department[6]

Municipal elections[edit]

The UDP won a majority in the municipal councils of Belize City, San Pedro Town, Benque Viejo del Carmen, Corozal Town, San Ignacio and Santa Elena and Belmopan. The PUP won a majority in Orange Walk Town, Dangriga and Punta Gorda.[7]

Reactions[edit]

Domestic

Dean Barrow reacted to the victory by assuring the public that he would quickly appoint a delegation to renegotiate the terms of the so-called superbond with foreign financiers. Analysts at JP Morgan and Nomura Securities have estimated the government's chances of obtaining more favourable repayment terms after the positive completion of the electoral process. According to Nomura Securities analyst Boris Segura, the bond's interest could be reduced to 5% and the maturity extended to 2042.[2] He also announced that he would approach Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez to supply Belize with low-cost petroleum products. He cited this as in accordance with his self-declared pro-poor agenda and efforts to lower living costs.[8]

PUP's Francis Fonseca had not conceded defeat the following day after the release of the official result. PUP claimed there were irregularities and filed a complaint against the result in three constituencies.[8]

International

The OAS/EOM noted several issues during the campaign and voting process, such as the deployment of public resources, including government vehicles and drivers, for the use of the ruling party. They also claimed to have seen cases of vote buying.[8] Though they praised the peaceful election procedure, the professionalism of the polling officials and the adequate representation of women in the process.[9] Faced with the poll-watchers' report, Barrow recognised that though the election had not been perfect, but insisted that in an overall view it could be considered free and fair.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aaron Humes, "Barrow rolls the dice March 7!", Amandala Online, 2 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b Hughes, Krista (8 March 2012), Belize steps closer to bond talks with ruling party win, Reuters 
  3. ^ Britell, Alexander (8 March 2012), Belize’s UDP Wins Narrow Re-election; Opposition Gains Eight Seats, Caribbean Journal 
  4. ^ a b c Hughes, Krista (7 March 2012), Belize votes with financial future at stake, Reuters 
  5. ^ a b c d Belize elections underway, Caribbean 360, 7 March 2012 
  6. ^ a b General Elections 2012, Elections and Boundaries Department, 7 March 2012.
  7. ^ Municipal Elections 2012, Elections and Boundaries Department, 7 March 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d Reelected Belize Prime Minister Will Turn To Chavez For Fuel, Belizean, 8 March 2012 
  9. ^ Belize elections receive OAS nod of approval, Caribbean 360, 9 March 2012