Friday, October 30, 2015. BMG: International economic magazine, ‘The Economist’, based in London has predicted, in its fourth quarter review of Belize that Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his United Democratic Party (UDP) will win a third consecutive election to remain in power as the country’s government.
According to The Economist, the Barrow’s popularity and firm grip on power at both central and local level will support the UDP’s re-election chances. Barring a last-minute political scandal affecting the UDP, we expect that Barrow will win a comfortable majority of seats in the legislature and a third consecutive term at November’s election, and our economic forecasts are based on this assumption, the report said.
The weakness of People’s United Party (PUP) opposition and the lack of popularity of its leader, Francis Fonseca, will prevent it from mounting a serious threat to Barrow’s re-election bid. Nonetheless, based on support in some strongholds, the party will retain a significant number of representatives in the legislature, it added. The calling of a snap election prevented the PUP from choosing a new, more popular leader to contest the poll, but we expect that the party leadership will be forced to change after the election, the report said.
Bold predictions; yet if the PUP were to suffer a third consecutive general election loss, not winning an election since 2003, the party would indeed require an overhaul. Still, that remains to be seen but the economic publication has called it.
It goes on to say, weak levels of public approval for the opposition and its leader, Fonseca, has encouraged Barrow to call an early general election on November 4th 2015, 17 months ahead of schedule. This will enable the government to take advantage of opposition disunity and a consequent slide in its popular support, the report said.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s forecast assumes that Barrow will retain control over the legislature after the election and this will help to ensure policy continuity. Enhanced UDP control of local government following local elections in March 2015 means that the next government is unlikely to face any significant political challenges to its policy programme and we now expect that risks to political stability will diminish in the forecast period, it added.
The report isn’t all good news though. Fiscal constraints will limit the government’s ability to meet expectations for improved public services and living standards and efforts to curb rising crime rates and tackle corruption will only slow progress, it added.
On the issue of the long-standing border dispute, The Economist predicted Belize’s relations with Guatemala will remain delicate, despite confidence-building measures implemented under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS). It added political will to push for a conclusion of the matter remains weak on both sides.
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