BELIZE CITY, Wed. October 21, 2020– On Wednesday, October 21, eighty-seven candidates representing four political parties were nominated to contest the 2020 general elections. The two major parties, the United Democratic Party and the People’s United Party, both nominated a full slate of 31 candidates.
The Belize Progressive Party, led by Patrick Rogers, confirmed 8 nominations after 1 candidate fell out of the race, and Nancy Marin’s new Belize People’s Front reportedly nominated 17 candidates to contest the elections.
Nomination Day has traditionally served as a springboard to give candidates and their supporters political momentum and an infusion of enthusiasm leading up to the general elections. Mass parties typically stage large parades with music and fanfare, akin to a carnival, but that type of procession has not been possible this time around due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet, the pandemic did not stop party supporters from coming out in numbers — some in motorcades, others on foot. Many images have surfaced on social media of party supporters not adhering to the quarantine regulations that require social distancing and mask-wearing.
Despite the recommendations made by health officials, and ultimately, the request made by the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, via letter, that the parties limit motorcades and parades on nomination day, party enthusiasts could not resist taking to the various streets across the country in support of their candidates.
Commissioner Williams ordered his officers to take photos or record video footage of persons in violation of COVID-related protocol during the Nomination Day activities. He says that persons found in breach of quarantine regulations will be arrested and charged.
Williams said, “We have a number of photographs that were taken of persons who were in violation, and again, we try as best as we can to avoid confrontation.”
He added, “I advised the officers to take photographs and video of persons who were in violation and then we are going to review those within today and tomorrow, and then we are going to pull in some people for them to be charged.”
In Orange Walk, a crowd gathered in front of the office of PUP party leader, Hon. John Briceño. He told the media that he could not stop the voters from showing their support, and added that they all followed the COVID-19 prevention protocols.
Briceno said, “Some people still showed up and when we were walking over here, they still followed us. What can I do? What we did is to ask them to please make sure that we keep the social distancing.”
Leader of the UDP, Hon. Patrick Faber, weighed in on the conversation, saying that the behavior was reckless and irresponsible.
He said, “I don’t want to be the one to point fingers, but that, to me, is reckless behavior, and it doesn’t speak well for the Opposition party, in my view. I think that people want a government, a party in government, that is responsible.”
While no exaggerated political flexing took place on Nomination Day 2020, candidates still expressed their excitement about officially becoming a part of the race.
Hon. Faber said, “I’m being nominated while I am the leader of our beloved party, and so it’s a wonderful feeling to be a candidate officially for this party once again.”
Briceño had bittersweet feelings: “This one is kind of a bittersweet one; my father died three years ago and then my uncle last year and they have always been looking forward to this day when I would be nominated, especially as the leader of the People’s United Party, and so, exciting, but still, as I said, bittersweet.”
Patrick Rogers, leader of the BPP, commented, “We do believe that this time we are in it to win it; that we’ll do more than just show. We certainly don’t plan to come last, and the energy we are feeling gives us every reason to believe that we could do better.”
The 87 party candidates and other independent contenders will vie for the representation of their respective electoral divisions, 31 in total. Recent data from the Elections and Boundaries Department shows a total of 182,815 registered voters and 421 polling stations across the country.