BRIDGETOWN, Barbados– Freundel Stuart, the now former Barbados prime minister, took full responsibility for his Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) unprecedented defeat at the polls yesterday and announced his retirement from elective politics.
But he believes the party which he unsuccessfully led into an attempt at a third consecutive term in office would eventually bounce back.
“It is an old feature going back I think to classical times that, in campaigning, whenever there is success, success is shared by all those who succeed and by those with whom they are associated. But when there is failure, failure points to one man,” he said just after 3 a.m., as he conceded defeat to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) which won all 30 seats in the elections.
“And, therefore, let me unhesitatingly and unequivocally and frankly accept full responsibility for the defeat of the Democratic Labour Party.”
The 67-year-old DLP leader also indicated that as had been his plan all along, it was the last time he would face the electorate. However, he said he would still be available to participate in the party’s rebuilding process.
As to whether he planned to step aside as DLP leader, Stuart suggested that there was no rush to do so, given a BLP’s landslide victory.
“Because we have to sit down and talk issues through, and because we do not – if present trends continue – to appoint a leader of the opposition in the Parliament it may be necessary for me to preside as far as possible over the transition to a new leader.
Now, far be it from me to arrogate to myself the right to determine who should succeed me as political leader. I leave that entirely to the party and to the other actors in this political drama,” he told reporters.
In conceding his party’s “overwhelming defeat”, Stuart congratulated the BLP which he said had “triumphed outstandingly” and extended congratulations to the BLP on their “impressive victory”.
He assured the party and prime minister designate Mia Mottley – whom he did not call by name – that they would have the best wishes of the DLP as they presided over the country, even as he commiserated with “the fallen” in his party.
Despite the punishing loss, Stuart predicted that the DLP would bounce back.
He made reference to the 1999 elections in which the BLP won 26 of the then 28 constituencies, which at the time was the largest margin of victory since universal suffrage was introduced in 1951. In 2003, the margin was reduced with the BLP winning 23 of the 30 seats, and five years later, the DLP took over the reins of government after winning 20 seats to the BLP’s 10.
He said the party would have to reflect on what happened to determine why it happened and to take the corrective steps to start the process of rebuilding.
“I am confident that we have the human resources in this party to do it. I am confident that having gone through this kind of thing in the past…I’m sure we will rebound from this as well. I think that the resilience, the courage and the commitment of the membership of the Democratic Labour Party guarantee this,” Stuart said.