BELIZE CITY–On March 4, 2015, voters from all nine municipalities will go to the polls to elect new slates of persons who they want to govern their town or city. Currently, most of those municipalities are controlled by the ruling United Democratic Party, but despite the resounding defeat the Opposition People’s United Party suffered at the polls in Cayo North on Monday, Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca says that his party will wage “a very fierce and competitive battle” in the municipal elections.
“There are other battles to come; the municipal elections are in a few weeks, in March, and we now move on to that battle for the municipal elections,” Fonseca said.
In the wake of his party’s defeat in Cayo North, Fonseca held a press conference today, Tuesday, January 6, congratulating the victors – Dr. Omar Figueroa and the United Democratic Party, for what Fonseca described as “a clear, decisive victory yesterday.”
“As the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly I welcome Dr. Figueroa to the National Assembly,” Fonseca said.
Despite the major loss in that division, with the UDP candidate getting almost double the votes of the PUP candidate, Richard Harrison, Fonseca expressed confidence that not only would the PUP win the upcoming March 2015 municipals but also that they would win the next general elections – whether it is called early this year, 2015, or in 2017, the date elections are actually due.
The PUP, like the UDP, marshaled its troops from across the country in the bid for Cayo North, and the resounding defeat has broken the morale of at least some in the Opposition camp, although Fonseca was resolute that his party lives “to fight another day.”
“If it has had an impact, it certainly will have an impact in the Cayo area, in the San Ignacio area. As you know, I think polling area 73 for the most part is San Ignacio, a large part of San Ignacio. Obviously, that is a wakeup call for the San Ignacio team,” he said.
Fonseca warned that there is a lot of work to do if the PUP team in that municipality wants to be competitive in the March elections and win in San Ignacio.
However, he said that outside of San Ignacio, the defeat will not have that kind of demoralizing impact.
He said that although some may be “feeling down and disappointed,” the PUP understands the circumstances of this by-election, forced by the resignation of PUP parliamentarian Joseph Mahmud, who had won the seat for the party back in 2012.
“We have to move on to the next battle. Let’s keep our spirits high, let’s stay focused and live to fight another day,” Fonseca rallied.
If the PUP could not muster up the resources to win Cayo North, it begs the question, whether it will be able to adequately finance the campaign leading up to the municipals.
Fonseca said that indeed, the party has to find more resources to support their candidates, but he is absolutely satisfied that the party will have adequate resources to put up an effective fight in all nine municipalities, and he expects they will “do very well” in those elections.
He said that, “…one of the things I had to weigh and balance in this Cayo North elections, you know, I have resources available for these nine municipalities. That’s one of the things you have to weigh and balance as a leader and that was my decision personally. I could only spend so much in Cayo North, because I have these other elections coming up.”
Fonseca said that his party will undertake a comprehensive review of the election. “We have to now evaluate ourselves, look at everything that took place in Cayo North, look at ourselves as a party and determine what went wrong in Cayo North,” he stated.
“I take ownership and full responsibility for the loss and I have to look at myself what can I do better; what should I be doing more; how can we strengthen whatever units and arms of the party we need to strengthen to make the PUP more effective,” Fonseca reflected.
He said that there are many factors that could have resulted in the outcome of the election: the candidate, the plan proposed to constituents, the message of the party, their campaign structure as well as the amount of resources invested. As previously mentioned, Fonseca admitted that his party had been running a low-budget campaign, because they have the upcoming municipals to consider.
Although the PUP is looking forward to another try in Cayo North in 2017, it appears that Harrison will not be the man running the race at that time.
Fonseca told the press yesterday that Harrison’s candidacy has come to an end, and that they (the PUP) “have to look at Cayo North with fresh eyes”. He said that the party will have to determine who their standard bearer for Cayo North will be going forward.