1998 Belizean general election
General elections were held in Belize on 27 August 1998. The result was a victory for the People's United Party, which won 26 of the 29 seats and Said Musa was elected as Prime Minister for the first time. Voter turnout was the highest since independence; the ruling United Democratic Party was perceived as incompetent, incapable of governing and riddled with corruption. Crime and unemployment rose. After winning nationwide municipal elections in 1994, they had lost two other municipal votes in 1996 and 1997; the PUP capitalized on the people's anger to present a manifesto of far-reaching proposals which they claimed would "Set Belize Free". Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel advised Governor General Sir Colville Young to dissolve the House of Representatives on 13 July 1998; the House stood dissolved with effect from 15 July 1998. Election day was set for 27 August 1998. Nomination day was 11 August 1998. One controversy as the election date drew near was Attorney General Dean Barrow's rushed appointment of Manuel Sosa to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on 19 August to replace the ailing George Singh, just days before the election.
Then-opposition leader Said Musa objected to this last minute appointment, after his party took power was able to have it overturned on the grounds that he had not been properly consulted on the appointment as required by the constitution. The National Alliance for Belizean Rights, which had run in coalition with the UDP in the previous election, chose to run on its own despite its sole member in the House, Philip Goldson, standing down; the party was not a factor in the election. The PUP won 26 of the most lopsided general election win since independence. Several high-ranking UDP members went down to defeat, most notably Esquivel himself in Caribbean Shores. Only Barrow in Queen's Square and Michael Finnegan in Mesopotamia retained their seats for the UDP, while Erwin Contreras narrowly defeated the PUP's Amin Hegar in Cayo West for the UDP's third seat. Barrow became UDP leader shortly after the election
United Democratic Party (Belize)
The United Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties in Belize. It is the ruling party, having won 2012 and 2015 general elections. A centre-right conservative party, the UDP is led by Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow. In 1973 political opposition in Belize was weak and the ruling People's United Party had never lost a legislative election since its foundation; the main opposition parties, the National Independence Party and the People's Development Movement met together with a new Liberal Party to consider forming an alliance to fight the PUP. The resulting merger formed the United Democratic Party on 27 September 1973. Controversially, a significant portion of the United Black Association for Development voted to join the UDP upon foundation; the UDP's first electoral test was the 1974 general election in which it fielded candidates nationwide except in Corozal District, where it supported candidates from the Corozal United Front. It won six seats, was within 18 votes of winning three more.
Former People's Development Movement head. The party had success in municipal elections during the 1970s, but failed to defeat the PUP in the 1979 general elections, its representation in the House of Representatives dropped to five seats and party leader Lindo lost his seat to Said Musa and was replaced as leader by Theodore Aranda. Despite internal divisions, the party retained control of three towns in the December 1981 municipal elections In late 1982 Aranda was removed as party leader and replaced by Curl Thompson, who in turn was replaced by former Liberal Party leader Manuel Esquivel following a convention. In December 1983 the UDP won Belize City Council elections and the following year they were victorious in the general elections, winning 21 of the 28 seats. However, they lost power in the 1989 elections, winning 13 seats to the PUP's 15. For the 1993 elections the party formed an alliance with the National Alliance for Belizean Rights; the alliance won 16 of the 29 seats, with the UDP taking fifteen.
However, they were soundly defeated in the 1998 elections as the PUP won 26 of the 29 seats, after which Esquivel was replaced by Barrow as party leader. The PUP remained in power following the 2003 elections. After ten years in opposition, the UDP won the 2008 general elections. Dean Lindo Theodore Aranda Curl Thompson Manuel Esquivel Dean Barrow Official website The Guardian Party newspaper
1984 Belizean general election
General elections were held in Belize on 14 December 1984. The result was a victory for the opposition United Democratic Party. Voter turnout was 75.0%. The election was the first in Belize since it achieved full independence from the United Kingdom in 1981. In its more than 30 years of existence the ruling People's United Party had never lost an election at the national level, whilst the opposition had never won more than six seats. However, by 1984 the PUP were presiding over an economy in recession and that had just been bailed out by the IMF; the party was internally fractured and faced a United Democratic Party that had made significant gains since losing the last general election in 1979. Senator Manuel Esquivel – who Prime Minister George Price defeated in his own House constituency in 1979 – became UDP leader in December 1983. Just a few months before the election, Price ordered a redistricting of electoral boundaries; this created 10 new constituencies for a total of 28, but the majority were upset because of claims that the PUP drew the boundaries with victory in mind.
Esquivel was elected in the newly created Caribbean Shores House constituency, while Price himself was defeated in his Freetown constituency after over 30 years of continuous service in the Belize House of Representatives and its predecessors. Esquivel succeeded Price as prime minister to become the first non-PUP leader in the nation's history. Price continued to lead the PUP from outside the National Assembly while Florencio Marin became Leader of the Opposition
Constituencies of Belize
Belize's 6 districts are politically divided into 31 constituencies. Each constituency sends one representative to Belize's House of Representatives for 5-year terms; this election is known as the General Election. Each person votes for the candidate they would want to represent their constituency in Central Government; each political party nominates Standard Bearer for each constituency. The winner becomes the Area Representative of the constituency, while the loser remains the Standard Bearer of that constituency for his/her political party. Belize's constituencies are divided in such a way that their voting population be as equal as possible to each other ensuring, that resources are shared among the country's citizens, as required by the constitution. After the 2003 General Elections two additional constituencies were created from territory of existing constituencies in order to further ensure the equality of the voting populations among the constituencies. Coming out of January 2008, the most populous constituency had a voting population of 7,085 while the least populous constituency had a voting population of 3,195.
In Belize's 2003 General Elections, 29 constituencies voted in their Area Representatives for Belize's House of Representatives. Since it was noted that the difference in voting populations between the most and least populous constituencies was rather large. In 2004 a Task Force was appointed by Boundaries Commission to study the matter, their Final Report was submitted in October 2004. It is noted that the Elections and Boundaries Department has the right to reassess constituencies after the latest census or population estimate. Among several things that their report suggested, the expansion of the Cayo District's number of constituencies to six had the most impact; the following year the law was passed to create two additional constituencies within the boundaries of Cayo. The newly created constituencies are Belmopan, containing the capital city of that name, Cayo North East, centered on Spanish Lookout; these new constituencies held their first-ever election during the General Election in 2008.
Below are the Districts and their respective constituencies: Belize District Albert Belize Rural Central Belize Rural North Belize Rural South Caribbean Shores Collet Fort George Freetown Lake Independence Mesopotamia Pickstock Port Loyola Queen's Square Cayo District Belmopan Cayo Central Cayo North Cayo North East Cayo South Cayo West Corozal District Corozal Bay Corozal North Corozal South East Corozal South West Orange Walk District Orange Walk Central Orange Walk East Orange Walk North Orange Walk South Stann Creek District Dangriga Stann Creek West Toledo District Toledo East Toledo West Below is a list of the voting population by constituency as of March 2015, sorted out by districts for ease of reference. Note that these populations are for Belizean citizens who are eligible to vote and does not represent actual population; as of March 2015 the voting population of Belize is estimated at 148,026 while the total population is estimated at 301,300. The Voter Age Population, i.e. all persons over the age of eighteen, is 161,677, or 53.66% of the total population.
Of these, more than 91 percent are registered. Males outnumber females in the population, though the gap is noticeable in the larger urban areas such as Belize City, home to 10 constituencies. Below is the chronological order for the creation of Belize's current constituencies. 1954 The following were the nine original constituencies created for the British Honduras Legislative Assembly: Belize District: Belize North, Belize Rural, Belize South, Belize West Cayo District: Cayo Corozal District: Corozal Orange Walk District: Orange Walk Stann Creek District: Stann Creek Toledo District: Toledo 1961 In a major nationwide redistricting, all of the previous constituencies were abolished and replaced with the following, doubling the total number of constituencies to 18: Belize District: Albert, Belize Rural North, Belize Rural South, Fort George, Mesopotamia, Pickstock Cayo District: Cayo North, Cayo South Corozal District: Corozal North, Corozal South Orange Walk District: Orange Walk North, Orange Walk South Stann Creek District: Stann Creek Town, Stann Creek Rural Toledo District: Toledo North, Toledo South 1973 British Honduras renamed Belize.
The British Honduras Legislative Assembly becomes the Belize House of Representatives. 1979 The following were renamed: Stann Creek District: Stann Creek Town renamed Dangriga, Stann Creek Rural renamed Stann Creek West. 1984 The following constituencies were created: Belize District: Caribbean Shores, Lake Independence, Queen's Square, Port Loyola Cayo District: Cayo Central, Cayo West Corozal District: Corozal Bay Orange Walk District: Orange Walk Central, Orange Walk East The following were altered: Corozal District: Corozal South was split into Corozal South East and Corozal South West Toledo District: Toledo North and Toledo South were abolished, replaced by Toledo East and Toledo West 1993 The following constituency was created: Belize District: Belize Rural Central 2008 The following constituencies were created: Cayo District: Belmopan, Cayo North East Politics of Belize Districts of Belize Belize Elections & Boundaries Department's Map of Belize's Constituencies Government of Belize's Official Website Boundary Re-districting
2008 Belizean general election
A legislative election was held in the nation of Belize on February 7, 2008. Beginning with this election, Belizeans elected 31 members to the House of Representatives of Belize instead of 29. In what was considered an upset, the opposition United Democratic Party won the election with 25 out of 31 seats. A national referendum had been called to determine the views of Belizeans on an elected Senate. In August 2003 Cayo South Area Rep. Agripino Cawich of the PUP died, triggering a by-election in the constituency, only the second held in Belize since independence; the by-election was won by the UDP's John Saldivar, who had lost to Cawich in the general election earlier in 2003. Saldivar's win flipped the constituency to the UDP column and increased the party's caucus to eight for the remainder of the term; the Society for the Promotion of Education and Research released the results of an opinion poll conducted in conjunction with SJC's Belizean Studies Centre in October 2005. In an election 49% of voters would consider voting for a third party.
As a followup, SPEAR conducted a second poll released on October 31, 2006. When asked who they would vote for, 32 % said 11.8 % PUP and 22 % a third party. Smaller numbers either said they declined to say who they would vote for; the nation's largest newspaper, the Amandala, headlined that more than half of Belizeans had rejected the PUP and UDP by either supporting a third party or declining to vote. In March 2007, the University of Belize and Saint John's College Junior College's Belizean Studies Centre conducted a one-weekend poll of 430 randomly selected persons seeking opinions on the 2008 elections; the poll was supervised by BSC's Yasmine Andrews. On the question of approval of party leaders, the UDP's Dean Barrow led all contestants with 55.7% approval. Results by party were similar, with the UDP scoring 55.5%, the PUP 16% and independents scores ranging from 2 to 9%. Beginning in March 2007 and continuing through April 22, Belize's 193 villages held council elections on Sundays of every weekend except for Easter.
While the Village Council elections are supposed to be non-partisan, the major parties and independents considered them a litmus test for the general elections. From the beginning and forth charges of inaccurate statistics and party favoritism have stained the elections, with both the blue and the red claiming victory in the majority of contested seats. Press releases from both parties claim victory; the results are detailed below. Results of Village Council elections 2007 Prime Minister Said Musa twice had chances to dissolve the House of Representatives in session, on November 16, 2007 and December 19, 2007. However, Musa committed to calling elections before the date when they were last held. With the announcement on Monday, January 7, 2008, the House was dissolved from that date. 93 candidates from six parties were nominated Monday, January 21, 2008 and elections were held on Thursday, February 7, 2008. The date chosen was one day behind Ash Wednesday, February 6. Campaigning kicked off in earnest from as early as summer 2007.
The ruling PUP have rolled out a number of programs designed to woo the electorate, including the promise of free textbooks for primary school students, improved infrastructure on the deep southside of Belize City and a planned rollout of a health insurance scheme in early 2008. Prime Minister Said Musa spent much of the early summer touring the South and West and continued his tour of the country in September and October; the PUP held a press conference on January 7, 2008 and announced pay increases for soldiers and public officers to take place after the general election. They released their manifesto "Believe in Belize-The BLUEprint" on January 22; the United Democratic Party, for its part, concentrated on shoring up support in the districts and fighting fires in the various municipal governments they have controlled since March 2006. Party Leader Dean Barrow has toured much of the country since June. Both parties' journalism machinery have dug up various scandals on either side; the Elections and Boundaries Department have noted an increase in the number of voter transfers between divisions done in July and August.
The UDP released its election manifesto, Imagine the Possibilities: 2008-13, to a cheering crowd of supporters at its party headquarters in Belize City on January 16, 2008. Several third parties participated. Among them are established parties Vision Inspired by the People out of Belmopan and We the People Reform Movement from the North, Cornelius Dueck's National Reform Party and Wil Maheia's People's National Party Attempts by third parties to unify have proven unsuccessful; the Amandala of March 18, 2007 indicated that the PNP and WTP had formed an alliance and were expected to announce their combined slate soon. The parties wrote joint letters to the Amandala in pre-election issues
Punta Gorda, Belize
Punta Gorda, known locally as P. G. is the capital and largest town of Toledo District in southern Belize. Punta Gorda is the southernmost sizable town in the nation, with a population of about 5,000 people. Although the town bears a Spanish name, its inhabitants are Kriol/English-speaking, are of Garifuna, East Indian and Maya descent. Punta Gorda is a seaport and fishing town on the Caribbean Sea, it was a small fishing village before it was settled by a number of Garifuna emigrants from Honduras in 1823. The Garifuna refer to the town as Peini; the town is about fifteen feet above sea level. Punta Gorda is the main point of transportation for people visiting the Toledo district and the offshore southern cayes. There is a small airport which serves domestic flights from Maya Island Air and Tropic Air. James Bus Line is based in Punta Gorda and offers a regular service to points north such as Independence, Dangriga and Belize City. Water taxis offer daily crossings to Puerto Barrios and twice weekly service to Livingston in Guatemala.
Unlike the purpose-built water taxis plying the routes between Belize city and the northern cays, the services from Punta Gorda are provided by small, open boats. There are several hotels in Punta Gorda that draw tourists with their ocean views. Punta Gorda is a gateway to several well-regarded jungle accommodations, including Cotton Tree Lodge, The Lodge at Big Falls, Belcampo Lodge, Hickatee Cottages; every May the town hosts the Toledo Cacao Festival, held over the Commonwealth Day holiday weekend, which celebrates Toledo district's ancient and modern-day links with cacao and chocolate. Notable people from Punta Gorda include paranda musician Paul Nabor and Belize's "Queen of Brukdown", Leela Vernon. St. Peter Claver Catholic parish, with a large elementary school, serves the predominantly Catholic population of the town; the town is served by Punta Gorda Hospital. Media related to Punta Gorda, Belize at Wikimedia Commons Punta Gorda, Belize travel guide from Wikivoyage
Toledo District is the southernmost district in Belize, Punta Gorda is the District capital. It is the least developed region in the country, it features some of the most pristine rainforests, extensive cave networks, coastal lowland plains, offshore cays. Toledo is home to a wide range of cultures: Mopan and Kekchi Maya, the Garifuna, East Indians, Mennonites and descendants of US Confederate settlers; the District has many villages, including Monkey River Town and the Toledo Settlement. It has a number of Maya ruins, including Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit and Pusilha. According to the 2010 census, Toledo District had a population of 30,538 people; the economy of Toledo relies upon agriculture: crops grown include beans and corn, as well as rice, sold to the Big Falls Rice Mill. Cacao is grown organically and sold via the Toledo Cacao Growers Association to Green & Black's for their renowned Maya Gold chocolate, as well as to chocolatiers within Belize; the District's ancient and modern-day links with chocolate are celebrated annually in May at the Toledo Cacao Festival.
Farmers grow additional crops such as coffee, sweet potato, hot chili peppers, avocado and plantain for sale at the market in Punta Gorda, held each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Fishermen practice small-scale fishing from their dug-out canoes, as well as diving for lobster and conch during open season; the Port Honduras Marine Reserve just north of Punta Gorda Town is a protected area, Toledo's waters are regarded as the permit capital of Belize. Many traditional fishermen have now trained as fly-fishing guides through the alternative livelihood projects offered by local conservation groups. Tourism is an important, new, industry for Toledo. Once regarded as an area only for the hardy and adventurous, the opening of new tourist accommodation and the development of tours, as well as a growing awareness of the district's high proportion of protected areas, excellent birding and the offshore cayes, have resulted in Toledo being recognized as an important ‘emerging destination’; the Toledo District is served by the newly paved Southern Highway, as well as several bush roads to the many rural villages in the District.
A regular bus service is provided by Punta Gorda-based James Bus Line, shuttling passengers between the other districts Punta Gorda Town is served by several daily commuter flights on Tropic Air and Maya Island Air and small, family run bus services that transport passengers to and from the rural villages. Each year, during the Commonwealth Day weekend, Toledo hosts the Chocolate Festival of Belize; the festival features chocolatiers from across the country as well as chocolate-related arts and crafts. According to the project coordinator for the Toledo Cacao Growers Association Thomas Tillett, the Association has a membership of about 1,100 cacao farmers. Several significant ancient Mayan sites are extant in ruined form in the Toledo District. Nim Li Punit is a Classic Period Mayan site with ballcourts and carved stelae. Lubaantun is a drystone constructed site with ruined pyramids and stone tombs. Cristina Coc, Maya community leader Juan Coy, politician Eden Martinez, politician The Forgotten District, a documentary film about ecotourism in Toledo Official website - with maps and area attractions Toledo District at belize.fm The Toledo Howler - quarterly newspaper published by the BTIA Toledo Chapter How to Cook a Tapir - a Belize memoir, documenting the author's year-long working honeymoon in the Toledo District Treehouse Perspectives - Living High on Little - the story of the Salisbury family's move and new life in Punta Gorda Governmental influence on ecotourism in Toledo - Influence or interference