Elections in Barbados

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Elections in Barbados is the process of conducting general elections or by-elections and formulating election results in Barbados. An election is a process in which a vote is held to democratically elect national candidates to an office. In the case of Barbados, it is the mechanism by which the electors choose members to fill elective offices in the House of Assembly. Elections are held on Election Day. These general elections do not have fixed dates, but must be called within five years of the opening of parliament following the last election.[1] A former minister of the DLP, Warwick Franklin summed up the general elections process in Barbados as saying it is really just, "30 by-elections on the same day."

Barbadian election rules are bound by certain parts of the local Constitution, various other separate legislation, and other regulations or administrative rules,[2] or Regulations made by the Commission.[3]

The politics in recent years are two-party, dominated by the centre-left Barbados Labour Party and the social-democratic Democratic Labour Party. Presently, it is difficult for other parties to achieve electoral success.

Authority[edit]

Elections in Barbados are the responsibility of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (E&BC)[4] The E&BC is an independent body under the Prime Minister's Office (in his or her capacity as Minister of Finance.)[2], which is responsible for the E&BC's actual financial administration. The E&BC is headed by the Chief Electoral Officer, and has five members/commissioners, who are chosen based solely on expertise. These members are chosen by both the prime minister and opposition, and can serve for a term of 5 years.[5]

Voting eligibility[edit]

Voting in Barbados by law is voluntary, with registration for elections undertaken by the Election Management Body (EMB). The requirements for voter eligibility are the following :

  • A citizen of Barbados, who is 18 years of age or older, and has resided in an electoral constituency for at least three months prior to the Qualifying Date.[6]
  • A Commonwealth citizen, 18 years of age or older, who has resided legally in Barbados for a period of at least three consecutive years[7] and has resided in an electoral constituency for a least three months prior to the Qualifying Date.[8]
  • A Non-Commonwealth Citizen, who is 18 years of age or older, who has resided legally in Barbados for a period of at least seven years and has resided in an electoral constituency for a least three months prior to the Qualifying Date.[9]

Polling[edit]

For an election to take place the Governor-General must formally issue a writ thus requiring an election be held.

Shortly before Election Day, a card will be mailed to Constituents indicating the location of their polling station. To take part during Elections Day, the electorate visits their specified polling station where they are registered for the national elections. At the polling station, eligible voter must present their National ID card to be given a single paper ballot. To cast a vote, the elector must manually mark their ballot. They do so by placing a cross ("X") next to the candidate they want to represent them. (Any other mark or comment on the paper renders it an invalid ballot.) Upon completion, the anonymous ballot is then placed into a sealed ballot box for later counting.

Voting outside the country by the general public is not allowed at Barbados' various High Commissions, Embassies, and Consulates. However, diplomatic staff may vote[10] Representation of the People's Act, "A person is qualified to be treated as a foreign service elector at any election in any constituency who is (a)serving abroad as the Head of a Mission or a member of the Staff of a Mission; (b)a member of the household of a person mentioned in paragraph (a)"

Counting[edit]

Ballot counting is undertaken at special counting centres.[11] The ballot boxes are collected from each polling station in the constituency and taken to the counting centre. There, the seals are checked before the boxes are opened and the votes for each candidate are counted. When the counting finishes, the results of voting in that constituency are announced by the returning officer, who declares the winner of the election.

Candidates[edit]

Local government was dissolved between 1967 and 1969 when an Interim Commissioner for Local Government was set up to transfer all duties to the national government. This left solely the national government. Under the present system, the electors do not vote directly for a Prime Minister. Instead, electors vote on the running candidates in their constituency to choose whom they want to represent them in the House of Assembly. All other positions in the government are inherited, nominative or directly appointed.

Government[edit]

Requirements[edit]

The eligibility requirements of contesting in the elections are the following :

  • A citizen of Barbados, who is 18 years of age or older, and who has resided in Barbados for a period of at least seven years prior to the Qualifying Date.[14]
  • A Commonwealth citizen, 21 years of age or older, who has resided legally in Barbados for a period of at least seven years prior to the Qualifying Date.[15] "Subject to the provisions of section 44, any person who - a. is a Commonwealth citizen of the age of twenty one years or upwards; and b. has such connection with Barbados by residence therein as may be prescribed by Parliament, shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Assembly."[16]

In order to become a candidate, there is a signature requirement which requires for nomination by at least 4 electors. Further, the potential candidate must also meet the deposit requirement of equivalent to BBD$250 (Barbados dollars), reimbursed if the candidate is elected or obtains more than 1/6 of the total votes cast in the constituency.

Funding[edit]

Candidates do not receive public funding and no actual provisions have been created for such. There is no allocation of free broadcast time or free printed advertisement space to political parties and as such, candidates must pay for all advertising of their own campaigns. The practice of televised debates between candidates has happen in the past but is not commonplace in the process of elections. Some bodies such as: The Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) or The Cave Hill Associates Polling Organisation (Chapo)/Boxhil), may undertake their own opinion polls leading up to Election Day but the government generally doesn't undertake any polls.

Disputes[edit]

Recounts are conducted by request of any candidate contesting in the general election. In the event of a dispute of any candidate, the Election Court (comprising three Judges) is responsible for trying the election petition - when hearing an election petition it has the same powers, jurisdiction and authority as the High Court.[17]

Referendums[edit]

There has been no precedent established for mandatory referendums in Barbados. In previous years the Owen Arthur government mooted the idea of having a referendum on whether to transforming the country into a republic. To date no precedents have been set to indicate any referendums results would become binding upon the government.

Latest results[edit]

e • d Summary of the 21 Februry 2013 Elections
Parties Votes % Seats
Democratic Labour Party 78,566 51.28 16
Barbados Labour Party 74,027 48.32 14
Bajan Free Party 94 0.06
People Democratic Congress 38 0.02
New Barbados Kingdom Alliance 72 0.05 -
Independents 407 0.27 -
Total valid votes 153,204 100.00 30
Source: The Nation

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Constitution: Section 61
  2. ^ Representation of the People's Act 1985
  3. ^ The Electoral Boundaries Commission (Review of Boundaries) Order, 1990
  4. ^ Constitution, Chapter 5, Section 41
  5. ^ Constitution, Chapter 5, art. 41A.
  6. ^ People's Act, Section 7
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ People's Act, Section 7
  9. ^ Constitution, Chapter 5, art.41A.
  10. ^ Representation of the People's Act, Chapter 12, Section 21
  11. ^ People's Act, Chapter 12, Second Schedule Part III, Section 35-37.
  12. ^ Constitution, art. 28 & 63.
  13. ^ Constitution, art. 64-65.
  14. ^ Constitution, Chapter 5, art.43
  15. ^ Constitution, Chapter 5, art.43
  16. ^ Constitution, Chapter 5, art.43
  17. ^ Election Offences and Controversies Act Chapter 3, Section 39.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]