PM Spencer: ‘This is a victory for the people’

As OBSERVER AM piped the news that the three United Progressive Party (UPP) candidates, who perhaps had more to lose than anyone, had beaten the court challenges, one of the people huddled over a radio at UPP headquarters was Baldwin Spencer whose right to remain in the seat of prime minister was at stake, both for his disputed personal victory in March 2009 and for his party’s slight majority in Parliament.

“This is a victory for the people. It is also a victory for common sense, and we can only hope that as a result of this decision, the United Progressive Party as a government and as a party will be able to move forward and to deliver for and on behalf of the people of Antigua & Barbuda,” he told The Daily OBSERVER in his first interview after hearing what the justices said.

“The elections are now for all intents and purposes completely over,” was how Spencer put his relief into words, and as is customary after elections, the victor called on the entire country to begin working toward healing, especially in the context of the greatest national economic challenge ever.

He appealed to the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) to understand and appreciate that the matter is now over and they should work with the government for the good of the country.

“If they have to criticise us on anything, let it be constructive and positive, and let us move on because the country needs all of us as a people to work together at this time in our history,” he added.

Meantime, by the admission of its leaders, ALP’s re-election campaign had been active since the 2004 vote, and when its efforts failed to shift power from the UPP to the ALP in 2009, it intensified in the form of a court challenge and subsequent insistence that Spencer was squatting in the Office of Prime Minister.

Up to this week, supporters were pasting stickers, which read 7, 6, 1, along the streets of the capital. The numbers, obviously representing the distribution of seats in Parliament had the appeal judges voided the results returned for St John’s Rural West, St John’s Rural North, and St George.

The numbers also represented the argument that victory for the opposition in the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal would mean the ALP’s choice for political leader would be the only person who could be named prime minister.

However, yesterday, ALP switched from being the government in waiting to the idea that its election petitions case built ample momentum for the 2014 election.

This transition marked the end of what may be the longest political campaign season Antigua & Barbuda has ever experienced.