Bi-elections, St. Mary’s South, Antigua-Barbuda, October 24th 2023 If Simon Wins, An UPP Star is Born – If George Gets in, ALP’s 2028 Chances Are Strong.
A version of this piece was first published on July 30th 2023 Not authorized for publication in Antigua-Barbuda before close of polls So, Antigua-Barbuda missed an election catastrophe, by a close call with the latest hurricane in the 2023 season. A word to the wise is sufficient.
This bi-election is being held because, on January 18th 2023, Kelvin Simon (UPP) defeated Samantha Marshall (ABLP) by 199 votes (862 VS1,061).
Ms. Marshall shocked the UPP by capturing the constituency for the Labour Party, in the 2 previous general elections, by closer to 30 votes.
It is safe to count this constituency as leaning more UPP than Labor…
During the 2023 campaign, Labor vowed to challenge a Simon-victory, on the
basis that his nomination might not be legal.
However, Mr. Simon rode a massive swing away from Labor, to defeat Ms.
Marshall, by a convincing 199 margin. Almost 10% of votes…
As Labour pressed its challenge, Mr. Simon exhibited a unique brand of shrewd political instinct. The UPP candidate determined, that he would rather his fate decided by the voters and not by a judge in the High court.
So he resigned his seat (apparently) to trigger a bi-election in the
midst of the annual economic low-tide, which occurs outside the tourism
The sustained and public confusion, which Simon’s action had on Speaker
and government, suggested that the young politician, may have left the
“gates” with a stunning advantage.
An obvious stroke of political genius (if he goes on to win) or a gambler’s
nightmare, if he looses…
Interestingly, Ms. Marshall started a high-profiled campaign to take back
the seat, then resigned rather suddenly.
So, Mr George (a body-builder and Economist) is the new Labor candidate for
St. Marys South.
On the face of it, the UPP can be excused for thinking that Mr. Simon holds
an unbeatable hand, given his 199 vote margin in defeating Ms. Marshall.
But labourites eyeing a victory for Mr George, will be mindful that “the
“power of incumbency” can make the difference in bi-elections.
In such contests, political parties are focused on single constituencies.
Giving the incumbent unprecedented advantages, because of the governing
party’s access to logistics, services, material and money…
Of course, the unbridled concentration of state resources, on single
constituencies, operating under bi-election conditions, could galvanize
voter back-lash from opposition and independent electors.
So prudent incumbents are cautious in the exercise of such options…
A win for Simon, gives the UPP the luxury of keeping 6 while focusing on
winning a mere 2 seats (perhaps City East and St Mary’s North) to form the
government with Barbuda’s BPM, at the next general elections…
A win for George, gives Labor a chance to step-back from the political
abyss, framed by its (current) 9 to 8 majority in the house.
Armed with 10 seats, Labor could then up the tempo on retaking St. Georges,
which the UPP won with a relatively thin majority.
As things stands, the other UPP seats have been won for at least 2 general
elections – Not likely to be in contention until 2033…
Going into the bi-election, the more than 600 electors who did not vote in
the general elections, should be of interest to both parties.
In Antigua-Barbuda, The Representation of the People Act, allows the ABEC
to remove names of dead electors from the registers. Indications are that
this is done at 3-months intervals.
Great campaigns give electoral no-shows a lot of attention in
Since there are enough no-show votes, to help win or loose the
bi-election, The side that wins will have done best in keeping votes while
taking a convincing chunk of the no-shows of January 18th…
Regardless of who wins, The results will determine design of 2028
Walk good…Remember! If Simon wins, an UPP star is born. If George gets
in, ALP’s 2028 chances are strong.
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