Last Updated on Friday, 13 June 2014, 10:16 by GxMediaANTIGUA OBSERVER.-The people of Antigua & Barbuda chose change over continuity when they overwhelmingly voted for the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) on Election Day June 12.
With a high voter turnout of over 90 per cent in some constituencies, the ABLP won by an almost two to one margin in some constituencies ending a 10-year return out of the cold.
The party took victory in dominant fashion. Up to press time, the ABLP had been declared winner in 14 of 17 constituencies against the United Progressive Party’s (UPP) two seats. There were 47,721 eligible voters.
The successful ABLP candidates are: Gaston Browne, St John’s City West; Melford Nicholas, St John’s City East; Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, St John’s City South; Eustace Lake, St John’s Rural South; Lester Bird, St John’s Rural East; Charles Max Fernandez, St John’s Rural North; Dean Jonas, St George; Asot Michael, St Peter; Robin Yearwood, St Phillips North; Paul “Chet” Greene, St Paul; Michael Browne, All Saints West; Molwyn Joseph, St Mary’s North; Samantha Marshall, St Mary’s South and Arthur Nibbs, Barbuda.
The UPP could only secure seats in St John’s Rural West held by former prime minister Baldwin Spencer, St Phillips South by Wilmoth Daniel and All Saints East & St Luke by Joanne Massiah.
The ABLP will form a new government today with ABLP Leader Gaston Browne becoming the nation’s youngest ever prime minister.
Born in Potters on February 9, 1967, it marks a major milestone in the former banker turned politician’s rise out of poverty to become Antigua & Barbuda’s fourth prime minister.
Those who will enter the Lower House of Parliament for the first time are: Michael Browne, Samantha Marshall, Charles ‘Max Fernandez’, Dean Jonas, Melford Nicholas, Paul “Chet” Greene and Arthur Nibbs.
None of the UPP newcomers, Shawn Nicholas, Mervyn Richards, Clephane Roberts or Dr Philmore Benjamin, was successful at the polls.
Former prime minister Baldwin Spencer accepted defeat and conceded at 12:24 am in a live address from the UPP Command Centre, from where he said he is willing to support Browne as long as he is working in the interest of the country.
In his concession speech at the UPP Command Centre, freshly ousted former two-term prime minster Baldwin Spencer, who retained his seat in St John’s Rural West, said, “I have been in touch with Mr Gaston Browne to congratulate him and to concede the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party has won the general elections based on what the trends are showing.”
“I congratulated him and told him I look forward to the ABLP governing this country in the interest of Antigua & Barbuda and that they can be assured of my support in the discharge of their responsibilities when I am satisfied that they are acting in the best interest of the people of this nation.”
A solemn looking Spencer added, “I wish to also say to the people of Antigua & Barbuda that the democratic process in our nation is alive and the electorate of this country would have made a statement … they would have made a choice and of course that I have to accept.”
While Spencer spoke in a small room upstairs, scores of UPP supporters sat silently outside with distraught faces as they continued to listen to live radio updates of counting that was still ongoing at the time.
Simultaneously, supporters of the ABLP were driving by outside the UPP’s Independence Drive honking car horns and screaming “we hab dem.” The same sort of celebration was seen on Market and High Streets.
The election, according to most reports, ran relatively smoothly apart from some specific issues raised by visiting observer groups, including the Commonwealth Observer Mission and the Organisation of American States (OAS).