Above: Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Belize is gearing up for national and municipal elections Wednesday, the first in the country since 2008, in a race pitting Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s United Democratic Party against the Francis-Fonseca-led People’s United Party, which led the country from 1998 to 2008.
The vote will occur in a so-called “double election” format, meaning voters will first cast ballots in the general election and then in municipal elections.
The major issues in the vote are led by the economy, which was projected to have grown 2.5 percent in 2011 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America.
Also on voters’ minds is the question of debt service on Belize’s $546.8 million bond locally called the “superbond.” Statements made by Barrow in February indicated that the country might be consider defaulting on the loan led US rating agency Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the country’s credit.
As of January, there were a total of 178,054 registered electors in Belize’s 31 voting districts, according to data from Belize’s Elections and Boundaries Department.
The vote will be monitored by an Organization of American States team headed by former US Ambassador to Honduras Frank Almaguer.
For more on the election, see Caribbean Journal’s recent interview with Fonseca.