After a 10-year hiatus, the Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party (ABLP) returned to the reign of power by crushing the incumbent United Progressive Party (UPP) of Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer in a massive landslide victory in Thursday’s general elections.
The ABLP, of businessman Gaston Browne, 47, won 14 seats of the 17 seats in the Legislature. Spencer’s UPP won the remaining three.
“To God be the glory,” said Browne after the results were announced. “Today is the dawn of a new day.”
“It is evident that the people have spoken, and they have spoken resoundingly” he added in a nation-wide radio and television broadcast, stating that he was “very humble by the mandate” given to his party.
Browne, however, reminded the nation that “the work has just begun,” noting that “the reality is that this country is in dire straits and would require the efforts of the entire nation.”
“We must remain a strong, united nation in order for us to achieve our goal of rebuilding the nation,” he said.
The country’s new leader praised his wife, Maria Bird Browne, for being a tower of strength throughout the campaign.
“I would like to acknowledge the contributions of my mentally ill mother for exceeding the contributions of my father who is sane.
“She struggled to raise her children and did a good job,” Browne said. “My only disappointment is that she is not in a position to enjoy the fruits of my accomplishments.
“What I would like for the population to emulate is the fact that anyone of us who is unrelenting, disciplined and strong can achieve their goals,” said the new prime minister, who was sworn in on June 13. “Do not give up. Always keep hope alive.”
Browne said the ABLP has set an “impressive vision for Antigua and Barbuda to transform it into an economic powerhouse.”
“The country is in dire straits and we must remain hopeful for a bright future,” he said. “We have the capacity to achieve that vision to make Antigua and Barbuda the envy of the Caribbean.
“We have the capacity to create full employment. We have the capacity to attract investment to grow this country,” he added.
Browne promised that, “as servant leader, I will lead a team that will be the servants of the people, and I will be a prime minister who is not divorced from the people but dedicated to serve.”
“I say to every Antiguan and Barbudan that we will honor our commitment to you,” he said. “We will not betray your trust. We pledge to work in your interest. We are the people’s hope and aspirations. We will hit the road running.”
In conceding defeat, Spencer, 63, gave the new government his support “in the discharge of their responsibilities when I am sure they are acting in the best interest of the people of this nation.
“I wish to also say to the people of Antigua and Barbuda that the democratic process in our nation is alive and that the people of Antigua and Barbuda, the electorate of this country, would have made a statement they would have spoken in clear terms, they would have made a choice,” he said in a radio and television broadcast.
Spencer, who was seeking an unprecedented third consecutive term in office, said that he has to “accept that the verdict of the people of Antigua and Barbuda is one which says that they are willing and desirous of having the Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party governing this country at this time.”
The successful candidates for the ABLP are: Gaston A. Browne (St. John’s City West); Steadroy C.O. Benjamin (Attorney General, St. John’s City South); Arthur Nibbs (Barbuda); Lester B. Bird (former prime minister, St. John’s Rural East); Robin K. Yearwood (St. Phillip North); Molwyn M. Joseph (St. Mary’s North); and Asot Michael (St. Peter).
The others are: Charles Fernandez (St. John’s Rural North); Samantha N. Marshall (St. Mary’s South); E. Paul C. Greene (St. Paul); Eustace S. Lake (St. John’s Rural South); Melford W. F. Nicholas (St. John’s City East); Dean Jonas (St. George); and Michael Browne (All Saints West).
The successful UPP candidates are: Baldwin Spencer (St. John’s Rural West); Willmoth S. Daniel (St. Phillip South); and Joanne M. Massiah (All Saints East and St. Luke).