Editorial, The Reporter
Election Day 2012 looks like it's going to be a game-changing experience for candidates who won or lost by 50 votes or less the last time around.
There are only two of these, and the candidate who appears to be the most vulnerable is the candidate for the Freetown Division. On March 2, 2008 Mr. Francis Fonseca received 1369 votes. His adversary, Mr. Michael Peyrefitte, received 1353.
In a constituency of that size 16 votes are considered a slim lead. In 2008 the electoral register for Freetown numbered 3681. This year the voters in Freetown are 4,230 strong. Even so, Mr. Fonseca has his work cut out in view of the fact that he is facing a formidable opponent, Mr. Lee Mark, who has a strong, well-lubricated election machine working for him. .
In Corozal North Mr. Florencio Marin Jr. is facing a similar predicament. He won by a margin of 16 votes over his adversary, Servando Samos. Unlike Freetown in Belize City, which has grown faster than most other constituencies in the country, Corozal North Constituency has not grown by much. The candidates are the same and the constituency is the same. It's going to be crunch-time for Mr. Marin!
There are two other areas of Belize City that hang in the balance. In 2008 Mr. Cordel Hyde won his seat, competing against Mr. Vandley Jenkins, by 379 votes in the Lake Independence Division. This time around Mr. Hyde is not competing, and the UDP candidate, Mr. Mark King, has mounted an energetic campaign.
His opponent, Mr. Martin Galvez, has entered the race as a last-minute substitute, and is not expected to do well. To add to his troubles, Mr. Carlos Diaz, a former Minister under the PUP, has put forward his candidacy as an independent.
It is widely believed that PUP mainstream voters will not be able to carry the day for Mr. Galvez, especially with independent Carlos Diaz shaving votes from his support base.
The other area of concern for the PUP has to be the Albert Division. Mr. Mark Espat has been elected and re-elected for three terms following the retirement and death of Mr. Philip Goldson. In 2008 he won by 636 votes. .
Under normal circumstances 636 votes would be regarded as too big a margin for the UDP candidate, Mr. Herman Longsworth, to overcome. But there can be no doubt in anybody's mind that the PUP has lost ground in the Albert. Mr. Espat's replacement is Mr. David Craig, a candidate with good credentials but no experience and no time for launching an effective campaign.
It may not be immediately apparent, but there is a lot of frustration among PUP voters in the Albert, and the reality is that Mr. Espat has dealt a crippling blow to PUP's prospects there. Miracles still happen however, and the PUP will need one to secure the Albert. .
Elsewhere there has been no upheaval on the political landscape to justify expectations for change in the status quo. Mr. Elrington in Pickstock with a 332 vote lead (2008) and Mr. Said Musa in Fort George with a 358 vote lead cannot be easily removed from their land-locked constituencies.
The difference between the two is that Mr. Elrington has been able to grow his support base, especially with the outstanding work of his Samuel Haynes Institute of Excellence, whereas Mr. Musa appears to have lost ground.
In the end Mr. Musa may be able to hold on by a much narrower margin, but it should surprise no one if he loses his seat.