Barbados PM Mia Mottley who broke with Queen wins landslide second term

Helen Pidd (The Guardian) reports on the landslide victory of Mia Mottley, the “PM who shot to fame at Cop26 climate talks vows to ‘lead country first to safety then to prosperity.’”

Mia Mottley, who shot to international fame during the Cop26 climate talks and oversaw Barbados’s break with the Queen last year, has won a second term as the Caribbean nation’s prime minister.

The 56-year-old’s Barbados Labour party (BLP) won all 30 seats, repeating her clean sweep of 2018, in an election marred by complaints that thousands of Covid-positive Bajans were denied a vote.

Mottley came to international attention last year when she castigated global leaders at Cop26 and her government jettisoned the Queen as head of state, installing the singer Rihanna as an official national hero at the same time. She also has star power at home, where she is known by her first name only. Her clean-sweep victory suggests voters did not blame her for the island’s tourism revenues falling by 90% during her truncated first term due to the Covid pandemic.

An 11th hour attempt to stop the poll failed on Tuesday night when the country’s high court ruled it had no jurisdiction to postpone the election, which took place amid rising Omicron cases.

Philip Catlyn, the opposition candidate who brought the case, had argued that 5,600 people in isolation were disfranchised after they were banned from going to polling stations to cast their vote. Anyone who tests positive on the island of 287,000 people has to wear a tracking bracelet to deter them from breaking quarantine.

[. . .] Huge crowds celebrated into the early hours of Thursday outside BLP’s headquarters in the capital, Bridgetown, after Barbados’s midnight curfew was lifted for the night.

In her victory speech, Mottley said the landslide victory would allow her government to “lead the country first to safety and then to prosperity” and to prepare Barbados for the challenges “of the next 10 to 15 years”. These include climate change and antimicrobial resistance, she said.

Global heating poses an existential threat to Barbados. Last year the island suffered its first hurricane in 65 years and a storm with almost 500 lightning strikes in the space a minute, plus volcanic ash-falls from neighbouring St Vincent.

Though Barbados is reliant on long-haul flights and polluting cruise ships for much of its economy, Mottley was the breakout star of Cop26, taking global leaders to task for their inaction on climate change. [. . .]

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