Antigua and Barbuda general election, 2004

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The Antigua and Barbuda general election of 2004 was held on 23 March 2004. The election was won by the opposition United Progressive Party, which defeated the incumbent Antigua Labour Party. Baldwin Spencer, leader of the UPP, replaced Lester Bird as Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. Spencer became only the second Prime Minister from outside the Bird family or their Antigua Labour Party.

Results[edit]

e • d Summary of House of Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda election results, 23 March 2004 [1] [2] [3]
  Party Leader Seats Seats ± Seats % Seats % ± Votes Votes % Votes % ±
United Progressive Party Baldwin Spencer 12 +8 70.6 +47.1 21,890 55.5 +11.0
Antigua Labour Party Lester Bird 4 -8 23.5 -47.1 16,534 41.9 -11.0
Barbuda People's Movement Hilbourne Frank 1 0 5.9 0 408 1.0 -0.3
Barbuda People's Movement for Change Arthur Nibbs 0 0 394 1.0
Independent 0 0 0 0 209 0.5 -0.6
Total 17 0 100 39,435 100

The election in the seat of Barbuda ended in a draw between the Barbuda People's Movement, an ally of the UPP, and the Barbuda People's Movement for Change, an ally of the ALP. Each candidate won exactly 400 votes. A by-election was held on 20 April; Trevor Walker of the BPM was elected, with 408 votes against 394 for the BPMC candidate, Arthur Nibbs. A third party had also been in the fray in the first round, Barbudans for a Better Barbuda.

An observer team from the Caribbean Community praised the peaceful vote and said the results "clearly reflect the will of the people". Among recommendations, it urged the Electoral Commission to strengthen its independence. Previous elections in Antigua and Barbuda had been followed by allegations of electoral irregularities favouring the government.

Defeat of the ALP[edit]

The election saw the defeat of the longest-serving elected government in the Caribbean. The Prime Minister, Lester Bird, had been in office since 1994, when he succeeded his father, Vere Bird. Vere Bird had been Prime Minister from independence in 1981, and before independence had been Chief Minister or Premier of Antigua from 1960, except for the period 1971-76. Lester Bird was among eight Labour MPs to lose their seats.

The Bird family have been widely accused of corruption and nepotism. The Jamaica Observer noted: "Bird's government had been badly damaged by scandals that in recent years have centred on allegations of bribery, misuse of funds in the national health insurance plan, and a 13-year-old girl's charges that he and his brother used her for sex and to procure cocaine. Bird, 72, denied the last charges and organised an inquiry that found no evidence."

Lester Bird's brother, Vere Bird, Jr., was accused of involvement with the Medellin drug cartel in 1989. He lost his Cabinet post, but was not prosecuted.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Political Database of the Americas (1999). "Antigua & Barbuda: Election Results". Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University and the Organization of American States. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  2. ^ Caribbean Elections (2009). "General Election Results - 23 March 2004". Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  3. ^ The Barbuda People's Movement (pro-UPP) and the Barbuda People's Movement for Change (pro-ALP) candidates each won 400 votes in the Barbuda seat on 23 March. The candidates agreed to a run-off by-election; vote totals in the table reflect the results of that subsequent poll, except that they exclude a minor candidate who contested the by-election.