A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize             A Review of Municipal Elections               In Po...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                                       PART 1                   ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeThe investigation compares past Municipal Elections, and all dat...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizeinstances, efforts in obtaining multiple data sources are employ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize       conducting literature review as listed in the bibliograp...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeA spoilt ballot is a cancelled ballot. The cancellation is done ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizemeans to manage, control, or steer the affairs of People. Govern...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeOrganizations that Impact ElectioneeringThe definition of good g...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                  Constitution, act in accordance with the Repre...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizecrucial to democracy. However, to date, there is no legal framew...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                                    PART 2                      ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeBelmopan Voters along with Voters of all seven Towns also voted ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize               “    “     “          11        0          61.50 ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeTown Councils, but four Towns voted entirely in support of the P...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizeperiods when the election is called immediately following a Gene...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize          1996                     44.21                       -...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizethe trend prior, and also exemplified an election where the Coun...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeTable 3 exhibits percent of voter turnout by town and year of el...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizein the national average for 2000 does not greatly affect the vot...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                                  Table 4                   MUNI...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                                 Table 5                  MUNICI...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizeapathy. Along with apathy was the possible disenchantment with l...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizequoted above, it cannot be generalized for Belize due to the lim...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeMorales and Rozel Flores-Arana, both of Orange Walk Town represe...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                                   Table 6                MUNICI...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeSan Ignacio/Santa       PUP              --        PUP     PUP  ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeIn Belize City and Orange Walk Town, the PUP gained 1% and 4% re...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize       The Leaders or Mayoral CandidatesThe drastic changes in p...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeDangriga, and Elsa Paz for the UDP in San Pedro Ambergris Caye, ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeFor 2009, the three Mayors who topped the polls were Elsa Paz, N...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeFive of the ten electoral divisions show high political party po...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizevoter turnout for all the municipalities, Belize City had an ave...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeEric Chang is not the first person of the Asian ethnic group to ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                                     Table 9                    ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizemomentous. This vote may also have a significant impact in the f...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeBelize City (6 out of 10 Constituencies), Belmopan City, and 3 o...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize        “…low but not altogether anomalous as a review of past m...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeFour other observations are worthy of mentioning regarding the d...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeThe overstatements range from 0.7% to 0.60% and may appear somew...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                                     PART 3                     ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizegained, is now concentrated in one municipality of the country. ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeBoth News and Talk Show Media enjoy a fiduciary relationship wit...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizeappearing to serve those values. Various Talk Shows touted that ...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize      Women’s participation at the level of candidacy tradition...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizethe PUP’s super-majority was short-lived as the outcome of a by-...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                               REFERENCES CITEDBernard, H. Russe...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize      Government of Belize”.     Belize: Government of Belize.Pa...
A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize                            Appendix i                  MUNICIPA...
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Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize

  1. 1. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize A Review of Municipal Elections In Post-independent Belize© 2009 by I. Myrtle PalacioAll rights reservedFirst draft shared on-line April 2009 40
  2. 2. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize PART 1 INTRODUCTIONObjective and ScopeUnlike other social sciences, such as economics and anthropology, scientific quantification,qualification and analysis of voter behaviour and political culture, are still left to gutfeelings in Belize (Palacio, 1993). However the study of politics is as important to our dailyexistence as the other sciences. Two endeavours at investigating Municipal Elections havebeen published to date, namely, “Selecting Our Leaders Past and Present” (Palacio, 1999),and “Belize City Council Elections: Who is Participating” (SPEAReports 7: Palacio,1991). The former, was limited to listing all Town Board Councilors elected from 1963 to1997. Similarly, the latter was restricted to investigating one Belize City Council Electiononly. This present study is a first attempt at examining the results of all Municipal Electionsfor both Towns and Cities. Its purposes are both exploratory and descriptive. It isexploratory as it continues to reveal new concepts in Belize’s political ethos, and extendsinto trends in political party performance and voter turnout at the polls. The study isdescriptive because the statistics itself when displayed illustrate and narrate the outcomes.This study offers an evocative review of Municipal Elections, concentrating on the electionheld on March 4, 2009, and focusing on several variables, such as leadership, women’sparticipation and voter turnout. 41
  3. 3. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeThe investigation compares past Municipal Elections, and all data are triangulated to ensureaccuracy and integrity of the information presented. 1954 saw the first General Electionafter adult suffrage, and thirty years later in 1984, established the trend for wide shifts invoter-preference as exercised through the vote. The main thrust is the analysis of data fromall Municipal Elections under the new Belize City and Town Councils Acts. Commencingwith the Belize City Municipal Election of 1999, the Acts empowered the Elector to votefor Mayors in the Municipal Elections. Other elections are highlighted for emphasis, butconcentration is on Municipal Elections, with particular attention to the Municipal Electionsheld on March 4, 2009. The study acknowledges the increase in the number of “Third”political parties competing in Belize’s elections. It also recognizes the two major politicalparties, namely the Peoples United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP), asthe two Parties that have consistently contested the elections in post-independent Belize.Variables such as voter participation and political party popularity in General Elections arenot compared with that of Municipal Elections for the basic reason that the source, thedatabases, or the universe are not the same in most cases. However, several references aremade to General Elections in determining its effect on the outcome of Municipal Electionsand vice versa. For purposes of this study, national averages for Municipal Elections arenot recognized before 2003, as these were administered as separate elections and held atdiffering times. Prior to 2003, a national average will be in reference to Town BoardElections only.Raw data are collected, then collated, calculated and analyzed to produce readily readableinformation. If the data provided are not accurate, the information produced will not bevalid or reliable. Limitations in the availability and quality of data sources for electionresults have been encountered over the years (Palacio, 1991, 1993, 1999). In such 42
  4. 4. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizeinstances, efforts in obtaining multiple data sources are employed, and the data triangulatedto ensure accuracy of information. The data downloaded for the 2009 Municipal Electionsfrom the official website www.elections.gov.bz between March 5 and March 25, 2009, wereno different, and some of the most blatant were the following (Appendix i):  Late official postings of election results  Updating modifications without notification for clarity  Inaccurate calculations of voter turnoutWherever inaccuracies are discovered, the differences have always been elucidated, butonly the official results are utilized (Palacio, 1991, 1993, 1999). The approach in this studyis similar.The information in this research, contributes to Urban Studies as the findings can be used toinfluence urban policy, community development and citizen participation. It alsocontributes to the field of Urban Anthropology in the areas of social planning andethnicization of politics. Two new perspectives in Belize’s political culture have emerged,that of ethnic voting or voting as an ethnic block, coined as “ethnicization of politics”; theuse of inaccurate and/or incomplete data on election outcomes to spin viewpoints; and thenon-participation of electors by not voting. All these warrant further research with regardsto its effect on Belize’s political development.Research MethodologyA mix of methods and techniques were utilized to acquire superior quality data, resulting invalid and reliable information. In the secondary research method, the library reviewtechnique was utilized by:  perusing newspapers carrying election results for periods quoted  gleaning election results statistics from the Belize Gazettes for periods quoted 43
  5. 5. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize  conducting literature review as listed in the bibliography  searching the world wide web on-line news reporting of the 2009 election resultsAll the election statistics were quantified to determine voter turnout, political partypopularity, candidate popularity and trends in voter behaviour.Utilizing primary research methodology, qualitative research strategies were employed toattain a better advantage in interpreting meanings in people’s stories, such as but not limitedto, Talk Shows, political advertisements, presentation and content of news items. Datacollection techniques utilized included, participant observation as a voter on election day;in-depth inquiries of electors and politicians via face-to-face and telephone dialogues, aswell as environmental scans surrounding the Polling Stations in Belize City on ElectionDay. News items were coded and analyzed using techniques of content and narrativeanalyses. As an Elector with experience in election data analysis in Belize, I am the situatedknower or the outsider within, and I utilized this opportunity as a participant observer todraw better insight into the value climate. This is a technique of feminist standpoint theoryand indigenous anthropology (Hill, 1990; Bernard H. Russell, 1994).DefinitionsThe following definitions of terms or concepts used in the paper are offered below forpurposes of clarity. Spoilt Ballot--Rejected Ballot—Ballots CastThe Representation of the People Act (ROPA) chapter 9 of the laws of Belize provides theregulations for voter registration and conduct of elections. The Third Section, underElection Rules, is quoted for the definitions offered on spoilt and rejected ballots, asfollows. 44
  6. 6. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeA spoilt ballot is a cancelled ballot. The cancellation is done in the Polling Station by thePresiding Officer on the request of an Elector. A “spoilt ballot” is not placed or “cast” intothe ballot box, and is therefore not a “cast ballot” or vote (Rule 26). A rejected ballot is a“cast ballot” or vote that has been deemed void by the Returning Officer in the CountingStation. A rejected ballot is not part of the votes counted for a candidate (Rule 31). TheROPA offers 5 reasons to reject a cast ballot as follows (Rule 31 (1)): “Any ballot paper--  which does not have the Presiding Officer’s initials on the back of it; or  in which the elector has voted for more than one candidate; or  which is not marked for any candidate; or  which contains any writing or by which the elector could be identified; or  which is unmarked or void for uncertainty;”In Municipal Elections, the number of “ballots cast” represents the number of Electors whovoted. Each Elector who participates has the choice of voting for 0 to 11 persons in BelizeCity, or 0 to 7 persons in Belmopan City or each of the other seven municipalities. Voterturnout then is the result of the total number of “ballots cast” divided by the total number ofregistered Electors. One “ballot cast” represents one Voter, but as expressed above, one“cast ballot” may have several votes. A Presiding Officer has the responsibility to manage aPolling Station on Election Day and a Returning Officer manages the election for the entiremunicipality if it is a Municipal Election, or electoral division if a Parliamentary Election. Good governanceThe expressions “Good Governance” and “Corruption” were touted by the Media,Politicians and others throughout the 2008 election campaign, and it is a topic of interest inthis study. For purposes of this research corruption is the abuse of entrusted power forpersonal gain or for the benefit of a group to which one owes allegiance. To govern simply 45
  7. 7. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizemeans to manage, control, or steer the affairs of People. Governance is the exercise ofpower or authority to manage a country’s resources and affairs. Good governancecomprises the mechanisms, processes and institutions, through which people and groupsarticulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate theirdifferences. For a government it is the “traditions and institutions by which authority in acountry is exercised” including, “the process by which governments are selected, monitoredand replaced (AusAID1, 2005). Taken from the definition offered by the Government ofBelize through the Office of Governance (OoG), Governance is defined as “the competentmanagement of resources and business in a manner that is transparent, accountable andresponsive” (OoG Annual Report 2007).Good governance minimizes corruption and can only be accomplished through the practiceof several principles, characteristics or qualities, with examples below as presented in theliterature: Accountability Transparency/Openness Decency Inclusiveness Responsiveness Participation Fairness Rule of Law Accuracy Integrity Effectiveness & EfficiencyAll organizations working for the common GOOD of the Public are responsible to practicegood governance principles as listed above, and these organizations are divided into threemain categories as follows: • Public Sector, such as Government and Quasi-government organizations • Social Sector, namely NGOs, Media, Unions, Churches, Lodges • Private Sector Organizations, such as those with public ownership through shares. One example in Belize is the Credit Unions.1 AusAID Projects, “Good Governance: Guiding Principles for Implementation” (www.ausaid.gov.au) 46
  8. 8. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeOrganizations that Impact ElectioneeringThe definition of good governance offered by AusAID2 in 2005 abovementioned speaks totraditions and institutions by which authority is exercised in a country and includes theinstitutions that hold responsibilities for the mechanisms and processes, by whichgovernments are selected, monitored and replaced. Three institutions stand out as havingimmense significance to the mechanisms and processes for selection, monitoring andreplacement of governments. Therefore these are organizations that should be cognizant ofpracticing good governance principles as identified above. Firstly, an Election ManagementBody (EMB) is to ensure that voter registration is conducted as mandated by the ROPA; andthat an accurate, reliable electoral database is maintained. The EMB is also mandated toensure that free and fair elections are efficiently organized and conducted, with accurateresults reported in a timely and transparent manner. In Belize, the EMB with such amandate is the Elections and Boundaries Department (Department) which is a governmentagency that was created in 1989 immediately following amendments to Sec 88 of theConstitution of Belize in 1988. The irony is that at that time there existed an independentbody called the Elections and Boundaries Commission (Commission), and by so doingestablished a second EMB whose staff persons are appointed by the Public ServicesCommission. As a creature of Section 88 of the Belize Constitution, the 1988 amendmentsderogated the Commission’s role and capacity with regards to electoral administration as setout in Sec 88 (13). The Commission’s role in electoral administration as determined bySection 88 (14) is subject to the ROPA and states, “In the exercise of its functions, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority and shall, subject to the provisions of this2 AusAID is acronym for Australian Agency for International Development. It is the Government agencyresponsible for managing Australia’s overseas aid programmes (www.ausaid.gov.au) 47
  9. 9. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize Constitution, act in accordance with the Representation of the People Act or any other law, rule or regulation relating to elections.”The expression “shall” in Section 88 (14) as underlined for emphasis in the quotation abovespeaks volumes. With subsequent amendments to the Administrative Provisions and othersections of the ROPA, responsibility for electoral administration was devolved to someextent on the Chief Elections Officer and by extension on the Public Services Commission.With one stroke of the pen in 1988, Belize changed from an Independent Model of electionmanagement to a Government Model (Palacio, 2005). To reiterate, for purposes of thisstudy supported by the explanations above, the EMB in Belize is the Department (seeSection One).The second institution that holds responsibilities for the mechanisms and processes, by whichgovernments are selected, monitored and replaced is the political party (Party). Traditionally inBelize, the political party as an organization is responsible for selecting or electing personsas standard bearers or candidates to represent the Party on the election ballot. Whether orhow the Party performs due diligence in its selection processes for values such as integrity,and the necessary skills to carry out the responsibilities of the Office Sought, is purely partypolitical business. Most Electors are not members of political parties, and the trend is thatonly small3 groups of approximately 10% to 12% for each major political party are partydevotees who invariably select or elect candidates for the ballot (Palacio, 1993). Therefore,the choice of candidate for the ballot is dictated by a small group through a political partyconvention; and the majority of Electors are left to conclude the vote based on the Parties’choices. Candidates are elected as leaders to determine the progress of the municipalityand/or country. This task by political parties of finding candidates for the ballot is very3 This trend may be changing as larger numbers are turning out to vote for both major political parties in a fewof the recent conventions. 48
  10. 10. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizecrucial to democracy. However, to date, there is no legal framework to regulate the politicalparties that are charged with such a strategic role. While the two major Parties have been inthe business of politics for all the elections in post-independent Belize, there has been anincrease of new entrants namely, “Third Party” participation in the political arena tochallenge elections only.Thirdly are the Media who are institutions now considered to be an indispensable element ina democracy, and have been described as the “fourth estate” or fourth power of the state.As such, the Media are expected to carry out the crucial role of facilitating public inquiry,by offering voice to a diversity of views and opinions. The Media are expected to providevalid, accurate, and reliable information to the public, so people may understand issues andcritically assess government’s actions or inactions. In so doing the Media also promotepublic debate on issues of public concern. Therefore, the Media are valuable and effectiveagents of change that work for the common good, and must set and maintain the higheststandards of transparency and integrity of information. 49
  11. 11. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize PART 2 FINDINGSTrends in Voter Participation Separate Elections—Town & CityUntil 2000 all Elections in Belize were conducted at separate time periods. All Municipaland General Elections were treated as separate and distinct from each other in terms of theelection dates. For example in the ‘80’s Belize City Council Election was held inSeptember 1983, the General Elections in December 1984, followed by the Town BoardElections in March 1985. Similarly, in the ‘90’s, General Election was held in June 1993,Town Board Elections were held in March 1994, and the Belize City Council Elections inMarch 1996 (Table 1). The first two Municipal Elections in one day were held in March2000 under the new Belmopan City Council and Town Councils Acts, following the March1999 Belize City Council Election. It was the first City Council Election for Belmopanafter the Referendum of November 1999 which asked the question: “Should we inBelmopan have our own elected City Council?” The new Village, City and Town CouncilsActs reformed the local government system by providing for the election of Mayors andVillage Chairmen, setting a specific time for elections, and the devolution of powers to theCouncils. In Belize City, Electors voted for a Mayor for the first time in 1999, and 50
  12. 12. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeBelmopan Voters along with Voters of all seven Towns also voted for a Mayor for the firsttime in 2000. Similarly a national Village Council Election was held in April 2001,whereby residents under the new act voted directly and by way of ballots for Chairpersons. Table 1: Date of Election by Outcome Date of Election Outcome Type of Election Party Seat %Voter UDP PUP Turnout December 17, 1980 0 9 65.30 Belize City Council December 16, 1981 26 16 76.03 Town Board September 14, 1983 9 0 57.46 Belize City Council December 14, 1984 21 7 74.90 General March 27, 1985 4 0 44.30 Belize City Council March 27, 1985 35 14 69.37 Town Board December 10, 1986 9 0 49.40 Belize City March 16, 1988 19 30 71.53 Town Board September 4, 1989 13 15 72.60 General December 6, 1989 0 9 47.55 Belize City March 25, 1991 14 35 68.33 Town Board March 18, 1993 0 9 44.27 Belize City Council June 30, 1993 16 13 71.60 General March 8, 1994 43 6 69.24 Town Board March 18, 1996 0 9 44.21 Belize City Council March 11, 1997 3 46 67.14 Town Board August 1998 3 26 90.14 General March 3, 1999 0 11 57.35 Belize City Council March 1, 2000 2 47 72.35 Town Council March 1, 2000 0 7 69.51 Belmopan City Council March 5, 2003 21 28 77.73 Town Council “ “ “ 0 7 70.69 Belmopan City Council “ “ “ 0 11 71.85 Belize City Council “ “ “ 7 22 79.51 General October 29, 2003 1 0 72.63 Cayo South By-election March 1, 2006 46 3 67.81 Town Council “ “ “ 7 0 70.45 Belmopan City Council 51
  13. 13. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize “ “ “ 11 0 61.50 Belize City Council February 7, 2008 25 6 77.18 General March 4, 2009 * 46 3 60.33 Town Council “ “ “ 0 7 51.46 Belmopan City Council “ “ “ * 11 0 42.10 Belize City CouncilIn 2003, all Municipalities were scheduled to hold elections on the first Wednesday inMarch, as required under the new City Councils and Town Councils Acts. This meant thattwo elections were to be held as in 2000, with the inclusion of the largest municipality,Belize City for the first time. General Election was also slated to be held sometime in 2003;and the Government took the bold decision to hold the General Election on the same day asthe scheduled two Municipal Elections. Therefore three elections were held on the sameday in 2003. According to the Election Report (www.belize-elections.org), voter turnoutwas high, spoilt ballots and rejected ballots cast were within normal occurrences, and therewere no appeals for reviews and/or recounts (Palacio, 2003). Local Election & Outcome of General?The first Town Board Elections after Belize’s independence were held some three monthslater, on Dec 16, 1981. Although the UDP garnered the majority (26) of the 42 seats, threeTown Boards, namely, Corozal and Orange Walk were split politically, four seats to three infavour of the PUP; and the UDP garnered Dangriga. The UDP won all seven seats inBenque Viejo and San Ignacio, and the PUP won Punta Gorda (see Section Three). Upuntil after 1991, politically mixed Town Boards were the norm whereby each Towndemonstrated its Electors’ choices (Palacio, 1999). In 2003, there were no politically split 52
  14. 14. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeTown Councils, but four Towns voted entirely in support of the PUP and three Townstotally for the UDP. The new trend in a combined Municipal Election is that the winningparty takes the majority of the seats, particularly as the campaign is more about nationalissues, than of the concerns at the local level.Table 1 demonstrates the date of elections by outcome and type of election from 1981(independence) to present (post-independence). The Table shows that the UDP won theGeneral Election, Town Board and City Council Elections after Belize attained itsindependence. For nearly a decade, beginning with the Town Board Elections of 1981, until1989, the UDP dominated elected leadership in the House of Representatives, Town Boardand City Council. There are several reasons for such including the realities of change in arecently independent Belize, for both leaders and citizenry. Also while the UDP won the1985 by-election and full City Council Election in 1986, voter turnout was the lowest since1956, and at 44.3% and 49.4% respectively represented less than 50% of the Electorate.This started the trend of minority voter turnout to Belize City Council Elections until theelection of 1999, a total of 5 consecutive elections in nearly fourteen years.The PUP won the General Election of September 4, 1989, to form the second governmentafter the attainment of independence. With a narrow margin of fifteen seats to thirteen seatsfor the opposition UDP in the House of Representatives, and a party popularity at the pollsof exactly 50%; the PUP went on to win the 1989 Belize City Council Election some threemonths later by a landslide. The landslide trend for the PUP continued with the 1991 TownBoard Elections and the second City Council Election in March 1993. However the PUPlost the General Election held on June 30, 1993, some three months after the landslide win(Table 1). Therefore the theory that the political party that wins the Municipal Electionwins the General Election, and vice versa does not hold true. It is invariably during those 53
  15. 15. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizeperiods when the election is called immediately following a General Election; for example,March 1984 for UDP and Sept 1989 for the PUP (Table 1). The effect of one over the otherhas more to do with pressing concerns of the period. One such example is, the PUP losing aGeneral Election in 1993 some three months after a landslide victory in the Belize CityCouncil Election. There were suspicions regarding the introduction of an earlyparliamentary election call into the political culture, and also the rumors of immigrantregistration starting out of the Dangriga voter registration office, did not auger well for thePUP in the 1993 General Elections (Palacio, 1993; The People’s Pulse, July11, 1993; pg. 4).The 1998 to 2008 decade of domination by the PUP was not a new occurrence for a politicalparty, as the UDP dominated from 1981 to 1989 (Table 1). The phenomenon was the back-to-back successes of the PUP at the polls for the 1998 and 2003 General Elections. In sodoing, the PUP formed two consecutive governments, a first in post-independent Belize.The continuous display of change in Electors’ choices for leaders to the House ofRepresentatives reveals that party loyalty for both major political parties is small and thatlarge percentages (66%) of Voters are “fence-sitters” (Palacio, 1993). These Electors areinvariably anti-establishment and they decide the outcome of the vote. Table 2 Average % Voter Participation 1981 - 2009 Year Belize City Towns Belmopan 1980 65.30 -- -- 1981 -- 76.03 -- 1983 57.46 -- -- 1985 44.30** 69.37 -- 1986 49.40 -- -- 1988 -- 71.53 -- 1989 47.55 -- -- 1991 -- 68.33 -- 1993 44.27 -- -- 1994 -- 69.24 -- 54
  16. 16. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize 1996 44.21 -- -- 1997 -- 67.14 -- 1999 57.35 -- -- 2000 -- 72.35 69.51 2003 71.85 77.73 70.69 2006 61.50 67.81 70.45 2009 * 42.10 60.33 51.46 ** By-elections for Belize City Council * NB: Slight inaccuracies at data source www.elections.gov.bz for 2009 due to use of wrong divisorand miscalculationsIt was not until 2003 that the results of Municipal Elections can be grouped as such, todetermine a national average of voter participation for Municipalities. Prior to 2003, Townswere grouped as Town Boards, with a separate City Council Election; Belize City being theonly City until Belmopan in 2000. The grouping of Municipalities as one election doeshave tremendous advantages for election management, primarily from an economic orfinancial viewpoint. However, by so grouping them into one election, the stakes are higherfor the politicians as the recent trends have demonstrated that the winner-takes-all as theoutcome. The winner-takes-all is compounded when a General Election is called near to thetime of the Municipal Elections. This is no longer a novelty, as conducting multipleelections in one day was accomplished by the PUP administration in March 2003, and sothe risk of innovation no longer exists. The advantage of the winner-takes-all is more on thepart of the politician, as while the politician has absolute power, the Electors’ only recourseto an inept political administration may be to wait or “put up” until another election call. How and What is Low Voter Participation?During 1985 to 1996, four full Belize City Council Elections and one By-election (March1985), continuously demonstrated voter turnout far below what was the norm; and below50% of registered voters (Table 1). In 1985 voter turnout was described as low relative to 55
  17. 17. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizethe trend prior, and also exemplified an election where the Council was voted in by aminority group of Electors. The latter, that of a minority elected Council was the first suchoccurrence since the early period of 1956, and became the new standard and electionculture, until a paradigm shift in 1999, for the Belize City Council Elections.For ease of reference in this section, Table 2 displays the averages in voter participation forMunicipal Elections only. 1999 saw the first Belize City Council Election for Mayor,whereby the office of Mayor was elected separately. The voter turnout increasedtremendously by approximately 13% to 57.35%, and started the new benchmark for voterturnout of 50% and more of registered electors. The Table reveals that this patterncontinued, with voter participation increasing over the next two elections under the newBelize City Council Act, in 2003 (71.85%) and in 2006 (61.5%). The new archetype wasshort-lived, as the 2009 Municipal Elections displayed the lowest voter turnout ever(42.1%), and regressing approximately 13 years to a minority elected Belize City Council asoccurred in 1985 to 1996 (Appendix i). No political opinion surveys or polls wereconducted for the 2009 Municipal Elections to scientifically determine the reasons for a lowvoter turnout. The responses to similar queries in a survey conducted in 1993 are beingoffered as an example of Voters’ attitude. Although this transpired some 16 years ago, thecurrent concerns are similar though not in parallel numbers, and the reasons offered at 1993are as follows (Palacio, 1993: 60):  30.6% --discouraged or not satisfied with the political system  28.6%--no confidence in politicians or don’t care for politicians  18.5%--confused between parties  16.3%--political parties not for poor people  5.9%--did not offer an opinion 56
  18. 18. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeTable 3 exhibits percent of voter turnout by town and year of election and is limited toTown Board Elections for this section only. It reveals that unlike the Belize City Council,Councilors for all Town Boards, have to date been elected by a majority of the Voters.Also, it is evident that election participation of Voters has traditionally been well above50% for each Town Board ranging from 56% to 88% (Table 3). Data for Punta Gorda wasnot available for 1997 at the time of completing this study, so that Punta Gorda was notfactored into the national Town Board average. Invariably, the lowest and highest voterturnouts have unfailingly been Dangriga and San Pedro Ambergris Caye, respectively. Theother Town Boards have been constant in percentage of voter turnouts, through the electionyears. For example, Orange Walk Town shows a voter turnout in the high 60% to low 70%;and likewise are Corozal, Benque and Punta Gorda. The national average for Town Boardsvaried, between 69.37% in 1985, 69.24% in 1994 and 67.14% in 1997. While theseaverages demonstrate a small decline, these are well above 50%, unlike the electionoutcomes for Belize City.The era whereby Electors voted directly for Mayors in Town Council Elections, isdemonstrated in Table 4. The Table displays voter turnout during the period 2000 to 2009,and includes the City of Belmopan and Belize City (1999). Table 4 clearly establishes thatTown Councils continued to experience voter turnouts that exceeded 50% for all fourelections, from 2000 to 2009. Also the Table exhibits that Dangriga invariably still had thelowest voter turnout. While San Pedro Ambergris Caye is still high, Benque Viejo hastaken the lead to be among the highest in voter turnout. The City of Belmopan shows highvoter turnout relative to Corozal, Benque Viejo and San Pedro Ambergris Caye, asexplained above. This is from the first election in 2000 to the election of 2006, totaling 3elections for Belmopan. In 2000, the national average for Town Councils shows a slightincrease to 72.35% over 67.14% in 1997 (Table 3). The inclusion of the City of Belmopan 57
  19. 19. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizein the national average for 2000 does not greatly affect the voter turnout of approximately72% (Table 4). Table 3 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 1981 – 1997 Town Board % Voter Turnout by Municipality and Election Year Municipality 1981 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997Corozal 76.90 72.80 73.90 72.91 67.37 64.90Orange Walk 78.80 71.1 71.30 69.68 72.65 68.46San Pedro Ambergris -- 84.50 88.30 81.71 80.28 79.47Benque Viejo del Carmen 74.30 65.40 72.40 68.51 70.64 72.24San Ignacio/Santa Elena 76.30 66.0 63.60 65.95 66.31 61.97Dangriga 73.20 55.60 59.0 52.81 58.54 55.82Punta Gorda 76.70 70.20 72.20 66.74 68.88 --Town Board Average 76.03 69.37 71.53 68.33 69.24 67.14Source: Belize Today, April 1991; Belize Gazette, April 10, 1988; March 12, 1994, January 16, 1982 Supplement to New Belize, April 1985As demonstrated in Table 4, a national average for Municipal Elections can only becalculated from the election of 2003 to 2009. The national average of 76.3% in 2003declined by approximately 10% to 67.41% in 2006, and yet another decline of exactly10.09% in 2009. This represents a decidedly steady decline nationally, due directly to asteady decline in each municipality of approximately 7% to 10% for each of these elections;with the exception of the City of Belmopan. Tables 3 and 4 reveal that the nationalaverages for Municipal Election years 2000 to 2006 are above 50%, and to a large extent,range from approximately 18% to 27% more. Similarly, the national average for TownBoards ranges from 11% to 21% more than 50%. Therefore the data established a trend ofhigh voter turnout for Towns and the City of Belmopan. Similarly, between the 1999 and2006 elections, Belize City Council established a trend that far exceeded 50% in voterparticipation, but dropped below 50% in 2009. Table 4 also clearly demonstrates acountrywide decline in voter participation in Belize at 2009—every town, every city. 58
  20. 20. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize Table 4 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 1996 – 2009 % Voter Turnout by Municipality and Election Year Municipality 1996/97 1999 2000 2003 2006 *2009Belize City 44.21 57.35 71.85 61.50 42.10Belmopan -- -- 69.51 70.69 70.45 51.46Corozal 64.90 -- 69.15 81.09 71.20 63.57Orange Walk 68.46 -- 75.20 80.90 73.90 66.86San Pedro Ambergris 79.47 -- 75.58 80.02 71.00 61.34Benque Viejo 72.24 -- 80.09 84.14 75.40 66.41San Ignacio/Santa Elena 61.97 -- 71.33 78.90 61.80 54.29Dangriga 55.82 -- 64.46 68.23 59.10 51.23Punta Gorda ** -- -- 70.65 70.85 62.30 58.59Town Board/Council 67.14 -- 72.35 77.73 67.81 60.33AverageNational Average -- -- -- 76.30 67.41 57.32Source: 2003- 2009— www.belize-elections.org & www.elections.gov.bz *2009 slightly overstated on www.elections.gov.bz ** No data available for Punta Gorda—error in GazetteComparison of 2006 and 2009 Voter TurnoutVoter turnout for the Municipal Elections of 2006 and 2009 are compared by election yearin Table 5. The Table shows a wide range of variances for each municipality from 3.71%for Punta Gorda to 19.4% for Belize City. Interestingly, the two cities, namely Belize Citywhich is the largest metropolis, and the City of Belmopan which is the locale forgovernment administration, both exhibited the widest variances in decline in voterparticipation, and in the very high two digit figures. Benque Viejo del Carmen, Corozal andSan Pedro Ambergris Caye being Municipalities with a trend of consistently high voterturnout, a decline in 2009 of a near two-digit figure was highly unusual. 59
  21. 21. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize Table 5 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 2006 & 2009 Comparison of % Voter Turnout by Election Year Municipality 2006 2009 Variance Belize City 61.50 42.10 19.40 Belmopan 70.45 51.46 18.99 Corozal 71.20 63.57 7.63 Orange Walk 73.90 66.86 7.04 San Pedro Ambergris 71.00 61.34 9.66 Benque 75.40 66.41 8.99 San Ignacio/Santa Elena 61.80 54.29 7.51 Dangriga 59.10 51.23 7.87 Punta Gorda 62.30 58.59 3.71 National Average 67.41 57.32 -- Source 2006 & 2009—website www.elections.gov.bz on March 25, 2009 2009 slightly overstated due to wrong calculations & divisor usedThe last minority elected Belize City Council was in 1996 (13 years) with a voter turnout of44.21% (Table 2). In 2009 Belize City Council is again a minority elected Council at42.1% voter turnout, which represents the lowest ever for any municipality (Appendix i).The Election on March 4, 2009 can go down in the annals of political history as having thelowest voter turnout ever—lowest national average, lowest average for Towns and the Cityof Belmopan ever. The Electors voted with their feet by staying away from the polls. Thisis unprecedented and may be of major interest to political leaders, social planners andstudents of political science.All in all the data clearly express a countrywide “sit-out” on Election Day 2009 by theElectors of Belize’s Municipalities. What could be the reasons for such action or inaction?The reasons offered above from a previous research and publication, pointed generally to 60
  22. 22. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizeapathy. Along with apathy was the possible disenchantment with leadership at the localand/or the national levels. The data speak to this in another section of this research. Thisdeep decline of voter participation at the polls may not set a trend, but that communities willrebound as is the political culture. However, what is certain is that the “sit-out” expresses adeafening statement and cry-out by Electors to their political Leaders, and may become atrend if not heeded. Women’s ParticipationWomen have always dominated the political arena, but generally only as support staff, suchas campaigners and purveyors of food. Women are yet to demand their places as candidatesfor the Municipal Elections and in particular the Parliamentary Elections. Also both majorpolitical parties are controlled4 at the party leadership level by the male of the species. The1997 Town Board Elections saw the largest number of women as candidates, a total of 8 outof approximately 90 candidates (Palacio, 1999). Who is voting by sex and other variableswas determined in another research for Belize City (SPEAReport 6, 1991). This publicationestablished that a higher percentage of women participate as voters than men. It alsorevealed the challenges in accessing data from politicians and their agents. For purposes ofa quick analysis, similar methods were employed utilizing one electoral division in BelizeCity. The electoral division is Fort George, selected for its mix in socio-economic status, itsdiverse ethnicity, as well as for timely access to data requested in terms of prompt andefficient responses to requests made (SPEAReports 6: Palacio, 1990). The Voters’ Listused in the Polling Stations on polling day by the Fort George electoral division of the PUPwas the sample data for this study. While the result was similar in terms of sex as the study4 PUP National Executive (NE) endorsed at the 2010 National Convention comprises of 5 women out of 31members—“The Blue Tsunami”; www.belizetimes.bz, Oct. 22, 2010. Data on UDP NE not available. 61
  23. 23. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizequoted above, it cannot be generalized for Belize due to the limited universe. However, theoutcome from this small sample is utilized in this study as an illustration of its potential andwhat is achievable for further investigation in this area in the future. The findings are thatalthough Fort George electoral division has slightly more men (51%) than women (49%)registered as Electors at January 2009 (www.elections.gov.bz), more women (54%) votedthan men (46%) in the Belize City Council Election of 2009. Along with sex, the agecohort 31 to 50 years consistently turned out to vote for all three polling areas of thiselectoral division.The two women candidates who won their mayoral seats in San Pedro Ambergris Caye andBelize City did so against male counterparts; and Zenaida Moya won the candidacy againsta challenge from a male contender. Both Zenaida Moya of Belize City and Elsa Paz of SanPedro Ambergris Caye were the first women elected as Mayors by the Voters, with Pazbeing the first elected woman Mayor in 2003. Moya was first elected into office in 2006.Does this mean that women are voting for women as leaders? In the case of San PedroAmbergris Caye, scientific observation reveals that a large percentage of Voters includingthose who voted in 2009 are new Belizeans and/or newcomers to the Island Town, with anew thinking, and an independent perspective. This attitude can be reinforced by the factthat a top vote getter for the winning party UDP is also a relatively new resident. Thisspeaks volumes for the socio-political and socio-cultural development of San PedroAmbergris Caye. In the case of Belize City, Moya received the least votes for the UDP andwas elected by a minority group of electors, at less than 50% voter turnout, and the lowestever recorded in the history of free elections in Belize.Three female candidates from two communities topped the polls in the 2009 MunicipalElections. These were Elsa Paz in San Pedro Ambergris Caye, albeit by only 11 votes; Enid 62
  24. 24. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeMorales and Rozel Flores-Arana, both of Orange Walk Town representing the UDP andPUP respectively. Along with San Pedro, Orange Walk Town is another municipality thathas from time to time demonstrated some independence in Voters’ choices and high level ofparticipation. Although with a small margin of five votes, Elsa Paz also topped the polls in2006; and 2009 is her third success at garnering the Mayor’s seat. It shows that althoughthe number of women candidates invariably has not improved over time, those women whomade it on the ballot in 2009, were identified by Voters as possible choices for leadershipvia the vote.The Essential Popularity Political PartyPolitical Party popularity is determined by the total number or percentage of votes obtainedby each political party at an election. In a Municipal Election each ballot cast can havefrom 0 to 11 votes in the case of Belize City, or from 0 to 7 votes for all otherMunicipalities including the City of Belmopan. Therefore each ballot cast may havemultiple votes. Table 6 demonstrates municipality by party popularity for five electionsfrom 1996 for Belize City to 2009 for all municipalities, bearing in mind that the firstelection for a Council for the City of Belmopan was in 2000. A steady decline isdemonstrated in Table 6 for the PUP in all five elections, particularly between 2000 and2009. There is no vacuum in political party popularity, so that a decline for the PUP is anincrease for the UDP; just the opposite effect during the same periods. In Belize City, thepopularity of the PUP declined from 60% in 1999, to 38.5% and 39.6% in 2006 and 2009respectively. 63
  25. 25. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize Table 6 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS (1997) 2000 – 2009 Political Party Popularity by % of Votes and Election Year Municipality 1996/97 1999 2000 2003 2006 2009Belize City * PUP PUP PUP PUP 38.5 PUP 55.79 60.0 -- 54.8 UDP 39.56 UDP 37.1 UDP UDP 61.3 UDP NABR 3.7 40.0 44.2 NABR 60.44 PDP 3.4 IND 1.0 .2Belmopan -- -- PUP PUP 34.0 PUP -- 53.3 UDP 22.12 UDP 46.5 UDP 44.1 VIP 19.5 55.67 IND 12.6 VIP 22.22Corozal PUP -- PUP PUP PUP PUP 56.58 55.9 51.99 45.71 42.77 UDP UDP UDP UDP UDP 43.42 44.1 48.01 49.86 56.83 WTP IND 0.39 4.43Orange Walk PUP -- PUP PUP PUP 45.9 PUP 60.73 60.0 57.45 UDP 49.90 UDP UDP UDP 54.1 UDP 39.27 40.0 42.55 50.10San Pedro Ambergris PUP -- PUP PUP PUP 40.9 PUP 52.38 54.7 47.78 UDP 34.64 UDP UDP UDP 58.59 UDP 47.63 45.3 52.22 IND 65.36 0.51Benque Viejo PUP -- PUP PUP PUP PUP 55.53 49.1 45.4 48.16 23.63 UDP UDP UDP UDP UDP 44.47 50.9 54.6 51.84 74.11 BA 2.27 64
  26. 26. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeSan Ignacio/Santa PUP -- PUP PUP PUP PUPElena 49.98 50.5 47.51 35.51 26.89 UDP UDP UDP UDP UDP 49.51 49.5 52.49 63.77 68.97 NABR .51 IND IND 0.72 4.14Dangriga PUP -- PUP PUP PUP PUP 55.23 56.9 55.14 37.92 40.01 UDP UDP UDP UDP UDP 44.46 43.1 46.86 61.75 58.81 NABR .31 IND 1.18Punta Gorda PUP -- PUP PUP PUP PUP 57.51 56.5 54.95 46.35 37.8 UDP UDP UDP UDP UDP 41.82 45.5 44.05 50.11 51.76 NABR .67 IND PNP 3.54 7.82 IND 2.62 Source: 1996 to 2000—Belize Gazette, 2003—www.belize-elections.org, 2006 & 2009—www.elections.gov.bz Note: 1999 Belize City’s 1st Mayoral election March 3rd 1999 * 1996 only is Belize City CouncilThe popularity of the UDP shot up from 40% to 62.3%, and 60.4% for the same electionperiod (Table 6). The popularity gap widened drastically in 2006 and continued to 2009with the UDP gaining over the PUP in all Municipalities. The greatest gains for the UDPand losses for the PUP were in the municipalities of San Pedro Ambergris Caye, and theentire west of the country—the capital Belmopan, San Ignacio/Santa Elena and BenqueViejo del Carmen. In the City of Belmopan the third party, Vision Inspired for the People(VIP), garnered 23 or 0.10% more votes than the PUP. This represents about 3 to 5electors, and although it is a meager victory for the VIP, yet in politics a victory IS. Alongwith the poor showing in the western towns for the PUP, the election outcome from the newcapital City of Belmopan did not help. 65
  27. 27. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeIn Belize City and Orange Walk Town, the PUP gained 1% and 4% respectively more votesthan in 2006, but these numbers are greatly less than the popularity obtained by the PUP in2003, for both municipalities. Orange Walk must be highlighted as the Town that obtainedthe only 3 out of 49 seats garnered by the PUP in 2009; leaving Orange Walk with the onlymixed Town Council of 3 seats to 4 in favour of the UDP. What caused such a massivedecline in popularity for the PUP particularly in the west of the country and in Belize City,the largest metropolis, is worth researching. Other factors offered by this research, is thatthe west is similar to San Pedro as one of the fastest growing population with a highpercentage of new Belizeans on the electoral roll. These new Electors bring in a newexperience to the political environment. Similarly, an environmental scan of Belize Cityshows that new Belizeans have also steadily made in-roads into the Belize City, carvingniches on the out-skirts5 of this Old Capital.In statistically assessing the political parties’ popularity, one must also make reference tothe voter turnout and its possible effect on the popularity of one party over the other. The2009 Municipal Election is unprecedented as having the lowest voter turnout, in the last twodecades of electioneering in Belize. The Councilors for Belize City, the largest metropolisand the political and economic hub of the country were elected by a minority (42.1%) orless than one-half of the electorate; after reversing this trend for the last three elections1999, 2003 and 2006 (Appendix i). Voter turnout is the Voter’s direct participation at thepolls, and in turn reflects Voter behaviour and Voter attitude. Among other things, aposition of disenchantment was the stance clearly communicated by the electorate in 2009.5 Some of the areas are Belama Phase 4, Jane Usher Blvd and its environs, and recently the “south side” ofChetumal St. 66
  28. 28. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize The Leaders or Mayoral CandidatesThe drastic changes in party popularity and unprecedented low voter turnout countrywide,require cross-referencing with the appeal of the Parties’ leadership to the electorate at thenational and local levels. It is important therefore, to discuss the performance of candidatesparticularly those selected/elected to lead, namely those elected to candidacy for the Officeof Mayor. Table 7 demonstrates elected Mayors by Municipality and year of election forfour consecutive Municipal Elections. The names highlighted with an asterisk, representMayors who topped the polls for their respective political parties.Invariably most of the mayoral candidates did not top the polls for the four electionsdemonstrated in Table 7. In 1999, the first election of Mayor for the Belize City Council,neither the winning candidate David Fonseca, nor the losing candidate Anthony “Boots”Martinez, topped the polls for their respective political parties. In 2000 only 3 (18.7%) of16 candidates for the Office of Mayor topped the polls. These were Cassian Nunez andAnthony Channona as winning PUP candidates who topped the polls in Dangriga Town andthe City of Belmopan respectively (Table 7). Also the mayoral candidate for the UDP inPunta Gorda, Benjamin Westby, topped the polls for his party, but lost the election toAnthony Westby, the PUP candidate.Some progress was realized for the 2003 Municipal Elections, as 5 of 9 winning Mayorstopped the polls. These were: David Fonseca and Anthony Channona, PUP candidates forBelize City and City of Belmopan, respectively; Cassian Nunez (PUP) for Dangriga, MarioNarvaez (PUP) for Corozal Town, and Said Badi Guerra (UDP) with 12 votes from BenqueViejo del Carmen. The next two Municipal Elections 2006 and 2009 saw a decline, withonly 2 and 3 respectively, of the successful mayoral candidates topping the polls for theirrespective political parties. For 2006, these were Frank “Papa” Mena for the UDP in 67
  29. 29. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeDangriga, and Elsa Paz for the UDP in San Pedro Ambergris Caye, both with small marginsof 5 votes each. Although Carlos “Obeah” Galvez (PUP) of Punta Gorda and AlfonsoCruz, Jr. (UDP) of San Ignacio/Santa Elena won the Mayoral Office sought, they did nottop the polls for their respective political parties. In the case of Punta Gorda, Galvezreceived the least amount of votes for his political party. Table 7 Vote Topping Elected Mayors by Election YearMunicipality 1999/2000 2003 2006 2009Corozal Mario Narvaez * Mario Narvaez Hilberto Campos Hilberto CamposOrange Reynaldo Burgos Henry Castillo Ravell Gonzalez Phillip de laWalk FuentaSan Ignacio Orlando Habet Alfonso Cruz Jr. John August John AugustBenque Gerardo M. Sosa * Said “Badi” Gerardo M. Sosa * NicolasitoViejo Guerra RuizSan Pedro Alberto “Beto” Elsa Paz * Elsa Paz * Elsa Paz NunezDangriga * Cassian Nunez * Cassian Nunez * Frank “Papa” Aaron Mena GongoraPunta Gorda Anthony L. Carlos “Obeah” Carlos “Obeah” Floyd Lino Westby Galvez GalvezBelmopan * Anthony * Anthony Simeon Lopez * Simeon Channona Channona LopezBelize City David Fonseca * David Fonseca Zenaida Moya Zenaida MoyaSource: 2006 & 2009—www.elections.gov.bz; 2003— www.belize-elections.orgSource: 1999/2000—reference Tables 1 & 2 1999—Belize City only * Mayors who topped polls 68
  30. 30. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeFor 2009, the three Mayors who topped the polls were Elsa Paz, Nicolasito Ruiz andSimeon Lopez, all UDP Mayors. The following are other observations for the 2009Municipal Elections:  Belmopan: PUP mayoral candidate acquired more votes than the VIP mayoral candidate  San Ignacio/Santa Elena: Independent mayoral candidate garnered more votes than the PUP mayoral candidate  Mayors for Belize City, San Ignacio/Santa Elena received far less votes than Councilors in their party  Belize City Mayor received the least amount of votes within the UDPThe data have indicated that the choices for mayoral candidates by the political partiesincluding the VIP were invariably not the choice of the Voters. This can be attributed notonly to choices at the local level for candidacy, but also by the persuasive influences of thenational leadership of the major political parties in the selection of candidates (Palacio,1993). Looking at Belize CityThere are 10 electoral divisions or constituencies in Belize City, and for the 2009 MunicipalElections statistics on voter participation by electoral division were downloaded from theofficial website for the Elections and Boundaries Department, www.elections.gov.bz. Thedata were further tallied and analyzed to obtain political party popularity for this study.Table 8 displays political party popularity by electoral division, and includes voter turnoutfor purposes of clarity, with footnotes to emphasize the limitations of various data provided.At the time of analyzing this data (March 23, 2009), updates on the official website forvoter turnout for various constituencies still did not reflect the end of the polling hour. 69
  31. 31. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeFive of the ten electoral divisions show high political party popularity of over 60% and arelisted below, in descending order of political party popularity (Table 8).  Mesopotamia (83.6%) UDP  Port Loyola (76%) UDP  Queens Square (75%) UDP  Collet (70.84%) UDP  Fort George (61.77%) PUPFour of the five constituencies were won by the UDP and three of the four garnered overallvoter turnout of a little over 30%. Mesopotamia was the highest at 46.26%, and had thesecond largest voter participation.For the PUP, Fort George was the only electoral division (61.77%) among the top 5identified above, followed by Albert Division with 52.44% party popularity. While FortGeorge overwhelmingly won all polling areas of the constituency for the PUP, AlbertDivision lost one polling area (#16) out of three polling areas, to garner a little over 50% forthe PUP popularity vote. The PUP in the Lake Independence electoral division garneredequal number of votes as the UDP, and therefore both Parties obtained a draw (50%-50%);with the UDP winning polling area #17B and the PUP victorious in polling area #17.The UDP won the popularity contest in 7 out of 10 electoral divisions and overwhelminglyin four of the 7 as highlighted above. The popularity in Freetown (52.3%), CaribbeanShores 53.5%) and Pickstock (55.6%) were not so overwhelming, but it IS a win. AlsoPickstock demonstrated the lowest in voter turnout of approximately less than 25%, and sodid Port Loyola (Table 8). On another table on the official website that shows the results of 70
  32. 32. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizevoter turnout for all the municipalities, Belize City had an average of 42.1% voter turnout(Appendix i)).Cecil Reneau (PUP) lost to Zenaida Moya (UDP) for the Mayor’s Office sought, byapproximately 2700 votes or approximately 400 Electors, but he led his party in almost allthe electoral divisions for the PUP. Reneau performed well relative to his opponent Moya,as he is a political novice, against Moya the incumbent. Also Reneau and his team hadapproximately 6 weeks of campaign time, relative to Moya’s three years in office. Theconvening of conventions to endorse candidates in the face of the election was not a goodapproach employed by the PUP. Moya received the least votes for the UDP andapproximately 300 votes less than the vote topper, Eric Chang. Table 8 BELIZE CITY MINICIPAL ELECTIONS 2009 Political Party Popularity by Constituency Electoral % Party Popularity Voter Division UDP PUP Turnout Freetown 52.3 47.7 48.5 Caribbean Shores 53.5 46.5 46.14 Pickstock 55.6 44.4 23.81 Fort George 38.23 61.77 31.91 Albert 47.56 52.44 33.62 Queens Square 75.0 25.0 38.29 Mesopotamia 83.6 16.4 46.26 Lake Independence 50.0 50.0 33.78 Collet 70.84 29.16 33.74 Port Loyola 76.0 24.0 30.01 Source: www.elections.gov.bz 71
  33. 33. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeEric Chang is not the first person of the Asian ethnic group to compete in Belize’s elections.In 1954, the first election after universal adult suffrage, Jose Leon Chin won the Corozalconstituency for the PUP-GWU with 63.2% of the political party’s popularity vote (Palacio,1993). Chin went on to contest the General Elections in 1957 under the HIP banner andlost to Santiago Ricalde, receiving only 15.3% of the popular vote (Palacio, 1993). Mr. JoseLeon Chin may have been the first, but subsequently others have competed. For example,Paul Mahung topped the polls in the Punta Gorda Town Board Elections in 1981 for thePUP (Palacio, 1999). A telephone conversation with Mr. Mahung6 not only confirmed theelection outcome, but that he identifies ethnically with his father. Lastly, as current as 2007,Johnny Chee competed in the UDP convention for standard bearer in the Stann Creek WestDivision, but lost the convention bid.The 2000 Census Report places the Chinese population at approximately 0.8%. Butsubsequent to this Report, the Chinese community has grown by leaps and bounds andpersons of Chinese descent are ubiquitous, particularly in Belize City. The Chinesecommunity exhibits all the symbols of being an ethnic group (Palacio, 1995). Generally,its members have refrained from participating as party political candidates, and theircontributions are mainly as small to medium dry goods businesses and restaurant owners.In Belize City, they have aggressively taken over the neighbourhood grocery stores, therebychanging this Belizean culture in physical appearances and processes of conductingbusiness. Some of these stores also double as fast food (fried chicken) shops and oftentimesas residences. These are located in every electoral division of Belize City since the lastdecade, and have impacted greatly on the daily lives of Belizeans.6 Paul Mahung’s father came from mainland China 72
  34. 34. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize Table 9 BELIZE CITY MINICIPAL ELECTIONS 2009 UDP Vote Toppers by Constituency Electoral Division Chang Espejo Esquivel Freetown 941 901 924 Caribbean Shores 1356 1356 1355 Pickstock 587 579 593 Fort George 495 477 485 Albert 551 550 490 Queens Square 1252 1237 1244 Mesopotamia 1210 1217 1225 Lake Independence 971 969 963 Collet 1153 1144 1142 Port Loyola 1081 1089 1090 Source: www.elections.gov.bzWhile Eric Chang is not the first Chinese to contest elections in Belize, he may be the firstChinese to do so in the largest metropolis, Belize City, which overtly consists of businessesthat are Chinese owned and managed. However, Eric Chang as a relatively “new”7Belizean, and a political novice topped the polls for the UDP with a popularity vote thatsurpassed that of the incumbent Mayor. In fact, Table 8 shows that Chang dominated 7 outof 10 constituencies in topping the polls in these constituencies for the UDP. Although by asmall margin, he out-rightly won for the UDP the following electoral divisions of BelizeCity: Freetown, Fort George, Albert, Queens Square, Lake Independence, and Collet.Along with these six, Chang tied Caribbean Shores with another UDP candidate, RogerEspejo. Eric Chang’s vote-topping may be no political accident, and may phenomenallyrepresent an ethnic vote in Belize City. The Chinese community came out to vote. Theparticipation of this single group, in an election that most other Belizeans “sat-out”, is7 “New” relative to “Old” families resident 60+ years, e.g. Mahung, Mak, Liu, Wong K, Chee, Chin 73
  35. 35. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizemomentous. This vote may also have a significant impact in the future. What does it sayfor Belize and political leadership in the future? Will this start a trend in ethnic voting andif so, what will be its effect on Belize? These questions are urban anthropological in natureand is worth researching if only for purposes of planning and policy in the future.2009--Reporting of the Election ResultsInformation Communication Technology (ICT) has made communication of informationmore effective and efficient via e-mails, telephones and websites, to name a few techniquesnow utilized in Belize. Election results are important. Its timely communicationcontributes to the concept of a free and fair election; and plays a vital factor in the practiceof good governance principles. More importantly, the information communicated must beaccurate and valid, and where there are errors, these are to be communicated in a transparentand timely manner. The concepts emanating, namely, “timely, accuracy, valid,transparent” are all principles of good governance as defined earlier in the document. It isin this light that the following data are identified and examined. As mentioned in the“Introduction”, there are important institutions mandated to report on and/or monitorelection outcomes. These are the Elections and Boundaries Department (Department) as thearm of government responsible for election management, the Media which are deemed asimportant in communicating valid, accurate information for the common good of the public;and the Political Parties as direct participants in representing candidates.On Thursday March 5, 2009, approximately 24 hours after the close of polls, the data on theofficial website www.elections.gov.bz which publicized the outcome of the hourly count,had not been updated to reflect the actual election outcomes at the close of polls for most of 74
  36. 36. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeBelize City (6 out of 10 Constituencies), Belmopan City, and 3 out of 7 Towns. A randomverification of the hourly count posted was conducted as a safeguard for data validity in thisstudy. The test revealed that Orange Walk Town was grossly overstated in voter turnout,and already the Town was being touted in the Media as having the highest voter turnout,and stood out over all other Municipalities. The overstatement resulted from a possiblemis-type for polling area #54 (La Immaculada R. C. School), which showed a voter turnoutof 112.60%. While Orange Walk Town was overstated the other Municipalities wereunderstated for reasons explained above and therefore indeed Orange Walk appeared tostand out tremendously. For no other reason, but for the unusual performance, the datashould have been verified by the users of the information, specifically the Media. The errorwas brought to the attention of at least one Media house early March 6, 2009 during themorning Talk Shows. The Department corrected the error on the official website in itsupdate later that day on March 6, 2009 by over-writing the previous postings, but did notelucidate the modifications.Needless to say, the Media that utilized voter turnout in the news cast on March 5, 2009used the wrong data as the bases for their viewpoints. It continued for the next twomornings (March 5 & 6, 2009), on the Talk Shows both by Hosts and Callers. Channels 5and 7 who are among the major news media houses in Belize, communicated the incompleteand/or inaccurate data on Thursday, March 5, 2009 as “gazette”. In the case of Channel 5,this was repeated on Friday March 6, 2009. Not only was the wrong data quoted withconfidence, but by so doing, gave unjustified perspectives. For example, Channel 7 on theMarch 5 2009 evening news, some 2 days after the close of polls, determined a nationalaverage of 48.71% and further offered the explanation quoted below that it was: 75
  37. 37. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize “…low but not altogether anomalous as a review of past municipals show that voter turnout averaging just over 50%, except in aberrant years like 2003 when there were two elections in one.”Channel 7’s news item continued that: “The lowest turnout was recorded in Belize City with 36.8% turnout and the highest in Orange Walk Town with 72.9% turnout followed closely by Benque at 71.9%.”Channel 5 on March 6, 2009 evening news said in the opening statement that: “The official statistics are saying that the voter turnout in Wednesday’s elections was within average, forty-eight percent. In Belize City, however, it was lower than in 2006, in fact by seventeen percent.”Based on the findings in this study, several misinformation and misconceptions emerged inthe statement above by Channel 7 on March 5, 2009, four of which are highlighted below: 1. all the percentages of voter turnout quoted are incorrect 2. “just over 50%” voter turnout was never been the norm 3. voter turnout in 2009 IS altogether anomalous, and is unprecedented 4. national average comparisons can only be from 2003The Department as is its legal responsibility, had posted the results on the official websiteby the evening of March 6, 2009, some two days after the election. But Channel 5continued to repeat similar wrong information as Channel 7, even after two days had lapsed,and with modifications posted by the Department. Not only were the percentages wrong,but qualifying it as “within average” was grossly inaccurate. It is apparent, therefore thatthe Media may not have exercised due diligence in their “review of past municipals”, insourcing and/or monitoring the accuracy and validity of data before communicating such toits trusting public. 76
  38. 38. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeFour other observations are worthy of mentioning regarding the data posted by the Electionsand Boundaries Department and are bulleted as follows:  The modifications on the official website were observed between March 6, 2009 and March 25, 2009—2 days to 3 weeks after the 2009 election  Updates to the website---a) one modification was made to the voter turnout for Belize City and went from 43.90% to 42.10%; b) two modifications were made to the voter turnout for San Ignacio/Santa Elena on separate dates, and voter turnout changed from 22.85% to 42.41% to 54.29%; Corozal from 63.35%8  All voter turnout are slightly overstated for each Municipality due to incorrect divisors9 used (Appendix i)  Miscalculation of ballots cast for Belize City, Belmopan, Corozal, and DangrigaAs offered in the section on “Definitions”, the calculation of the percentage of voter turnoutis the total number of ballots cast divided by total number of registered voters. Ballots castin the case of Municipal Elections represent voters who came to vote—one ballot cast, onevoter. The official results on the official website continuously utilized “ballots used”instead of “ballots cast” as its divisor in calculating voter turnout. This is inaccurate, asthere are “spoilt ballots” in every case that needs to be deducted from “ballots used” toobtain “ballots cast”. Doing otherwise is overstating the number of Voters who came tovote, and may be diverting from the definition of “ballots cast” as per the ROPA. While theerrors may be an oversight by the Department, these are highlighted in this paper forreasons of transparency and accountability, and also because these are widely publicizedofficially, and on the World Wide Web no less.8 No warnings indicating date of modification and reasons, e.g. a flash as a guide to data users9 Divisor used was # of ballots used instead of # of ballots cast up to March 25, 2009 77
  39. 39. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeThe overstatements range from 0.7% to 0.60% and may appear somewhat inconsequentialbecause the number of spoilt ballots is traditionally small (Appendix i). Had it been larger,the voter turnout could have been grossly miscalculated by the Department. Theinaccuracies, no matter the amount are significant as it clouds the perception of dataintegrity and validity of information resulting from such data. It needs to be highlighted forreasons of transparency, not because the errors occurred, but more that it happened soconsistently, went unnoticed on the Official Website some three weeks after the close ofpolls, and that modifications were not highlighted for clarity. 78
  40. 40. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize PART 3 CONCLUSIONSummaryMost of us have at the back of our minds an awareness of socio-political and socio-culturalprofile of Belize; but this awareness is primarily based on innate feelings. In a rapidlygrowing state, such as Belize, such gut reactions have its limitations. This study is acontribution to ongoing academic research on Belize. ICT was the method employed toeconomically distribute the first draft to a broad public of Belizeans and students on Belize.A wide dissemination is also one way of bestowing thanks on “giving” communitymembers, most of whom are always willing to share their information. Election is a vitaltool in our democracy, not only because it is the primary means of participation, but alsothat the outcome affects all aspects of people’s lives, such as the dispensing of scarceresources, jobs, housing, land; are all tied directly to the political system. Things electionsin Belize appear simple and straightforward on the surface, but when one delves further, thecomplexities become obvious; as is highlighted in this study.The much awaited Municipal Elections of 2009 have come and gone, and while the numberof seats remain the same as in 2006 (64 for UDP, 3 for PUP); the political circumstanceshave altered to some extent. For the opposition PUP, whatever little municipal power 79
  41. 41. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizegained, is now concentrated in one municipality of the country. Orange Walk Town10 is thehome and part constituency (polling areas #54 & #53) of the newly elected PUP Leader.The PUP garnered 3 seats in the Orange Walk Town Council; nearly, but not enough votesto win the Town. Compounded by the marginal feat of the constituencies manned by thetwo Deputy Party Leaders in the Belize City Council Elections, 2009 did not augur well forthe PUP. The UDP on the other hand, has obtained absolute power, having consolidatedauthority over all 9 municipalities and maintaining super-majority in the House ofRepresentatives. At the same time, the political parties have lost their appeal to theelectorate. They sat-out the election at a deafening rate by not turning out to vote, andthose who voted, resoundingly avoided the leaders (Mayoral candidates) imposed by thepolitical parties on the ballots. The former that of lowest voter turnout is unprecedented, butthe latter (choice of candidates) is like a canker that has gone unnoticed for too long.The study made the case that transparency and accountability are much touted principles ofgood governance which are also vital in our democracies. Further, the research hasidentified three institutions that are considered to be an indispensable element in ademocracy, and should be cognizant of practicing good governance principles. The 11constant modifications by the Department were not arranged in a transparent manner andwhile it is human to err, transparency allows for clear communication of the error and themodification. That this was not done in a timely manner is what is highlighted in this paper.10 PUP won #’s 53 &54 with popularity of approximately 54%, but lost #’s 60 & 55 (46% & 39%)11 Cursory check of the official website on April 14, 2009 identified another modification: Voter turnout wascorrected to reflect the accurate data as highlighted in “Glessima” column in Appendix i, except for slighterrors in ballots cast for Corozal and Dangriga. No changes will be made to the paper at this late time &readers are asked to utilize Appendix i for the “new” Official Voter turnout as at April 14, 2009—e.g. BelizeCity now shows a voter turnout of 41.94%, instead of 42.1%. It does not affect the substance of this study. 80
  42. 42. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent BelizeBoth News and Talk Show Media enjoy a fiduciary relationship with its public, who rely onthe Media organizations for news and other information. This study has shown that theMedia misrepresented the facts and downplayed the outcome of the 2009 elections withstatements such as, “altogether anomalous” and “within average”. Whether this wasdeliberate or not is outside the scope of this paper; but it warrants sharing the followingobservations by other journalists.Firstly, Richard Merrill in his usual “Commentary” on Love FM sometime in February2009 advised the Media to apply the four-way Rotary test. Secondly, G. Mike Reid on July20, 2008 and Kwesi Pandy on the same date critiqued the Belize Media in separatenewspapers. Reid’s article in The Belize Times entitled, “The Colour of Journalism inBelize”, offered that: “…true journalism …draws a distinction between the reporting of facts and the expression of opinions. In Belize, the line seems almost non-existent and it is often quite difficult to figure whether we are getting facts or opinion.”Kwesi Pandy’s article in The Reporter of the abovementioned date was entitled “Talk forShow” where he offered that: “…If the shows are supposed to educate us then why are they, very often, limited to the opinions of the hosts?”Pandy continues that he, “…does not see enough or rather hear enough opinion substantiated by statistics, research, or expert guests. What is fact and what is fiction? The lines are blurred badly….”Both newspaper articles speak about a Belize Media that distorts facts or don’t encouragethe presentation of facts, and coupled with the findings in this study, it appears that theBelize Media may be hindering the values of transparency and accountability while 81
  43. 43. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizeappearing to serve those values. Various Talk Shows touted that Chan was the first Chineseto contest elections, and Media colleagues were unaware or overlooked that one of theirown, Paul Mahung was a vote-topper for the 1981 Town Board Elections in Punta Gorda,and identifies as Chinese.Lastly, the third institution is the political party and all political parties have been quiet onthe invalid data issue. Two inferences can be drawn from the silence—lack of awareness orperceive the issue as trivial; and the general reaction during an election aftermath. Thepolitical culture as has been observed before is that the winners are rejoicing and the losershave yet to fully recover. Generally, there is a tacit understanding among Voters that thetwo major political parties are still the vehicles to election success.TrendsThe following bullet points highlight particular myths dispelled in this research and varioustrends in Municipal Elections.  Electoral reform implemented through the Town and City Councils Acts regularized election dates, allowed for election of Mayor, and one Municipal Election  Voter turnout for Town Boards and Town Councils have traditionally and consistently been high—well above 50%  Back-to-back election was the norm until 2003  Wide shift of electorate is based largely on the burning issues for a particular period  Dangriga Town traditionally has lower voter turnout compared with San Pedro Ambergris Caye and Benque Viejo  Belize’s Media misrepresented facts, and downplayed election outcomes  Introduction of an ethnic vote in Belize’s political culture coined political ethnicization  Official results of voter turnout posted on the World Wide Web were inaccurate with numerous modifications without transparency  Belizeans of Chinese descent have been participating in Belize’s election since 1954 82
  44. 44. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize  Women’s participation at the level of candidacy traditionally small in number, but a higher voting consciousness  Women’s participation in 2009 appealed to voters  Most Mayoral candidates presented on the ballot do not appeal to voters  Candidates are selected by political parties by way of their own processes—a powerful task, but there is no legal framework to regulate political parties  The combined Municipal Elections have started a trend of the winner-take-all which leaves a power imbalanceElection PhenomenaThis election also had its share of rare occurrences, most notably having to do with voterturnout or lack of it. Voter turnout is voter participation at the polls and to a great extentcommunicates voter attitude. This IS the post-election issue for any political aspirant.Although the study compared and analysed the statistics about political party and leadershippopularity, a “sit-out” by voters in each and every Municipality is the most crucialinformation. Voter turnout was an unprecedented low for each of the 9 Municipalities.Belize City, the largest municipality has a Council that was voted in by less than 50% of theeligible electorate, and obtained the lowest turnout for the entire country. The last case of aminority vote occurred some 13 years ago, in 1996, and also for Belize City. Thepossibility of the introduction of political ethnicization, is worth further research, as itspractice may have far reaching effects in the near future.The super-majority in the House of Representatives of 25 out of 31 seats garnered by theUDP at the polls in 2008, is not the first for either of the major political parties in post-independent Belize. Table 1 demonstrates that UDP in 1984 also obtained super-majoritywith 21 out of 28 seats or 75%. Similarly, the PUP in 1998 won 26 out of 29 seats or89.7%; and in 2003, 22 out of 29 seats or 75.8%) in the House of Representatives. In 2003, 83
  45. 45. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belizethe PUP’s super-majority was short-lived as the outcome of a by-election to replace adeceased member in the Cayo South constituency was garnered by the UDP, taking awaythe three-fourths majority from the PUP. The difference with the circumstances in 2009 isthat at those times the process of garnering super-majority in the House and management ofall municipalities was gradual, but in 2009 it happened all at the same time. This is anoutcome of the winner-takes-all trend of the now combined Municipal Elections. Thingselections in Belize only appear simple! 84
  46. 46. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize REFERENCES CITEDBernard, H. Russell. 1994. Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative andQuantitative Approaches. Sage Publications.“…But Voter Turnout was only 52 Percent.” March 5, 2009. www.channel5belize.com.Government of Belize. 2000. The ROPA Chapt. 9. Revised 2000.Hill, Patricia. 1990. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge Consciousness and thePolitics of Empowerment. Unwin Hyman.“NGO’s Sets Up Trust Fund. July 11, 1993. The People’s Pulse. Pg. 7.“Landslide Victory for UDP in Municipal Elections.” March 5, March 2009.www.7newsbelize.com.Palacio, I. Myrtle. 1990. “A Socio-Economic Profile of Belize City.” SPEAReport6. Belize: Cubola.-----. 1991. “Belize City Council Elections: Who is Participating.” SPEAReport 7. Belize: Cubola.-----. 1993. Who and What in Belizean Elections, 1954 -1993. Belize: GlessimaResearch and Services Ltd.-----. 1995. “Redefining Ethnicity: The Experiences of the Garifuna and Creole inPost-independence Belize.” Thesis. University of New Orleans.-----. 1999. Selecting Our Leaders Past and Present. Belize: Government of Belize-----. 2003. “Report on General and Municipal Elections, held March 2003”-----. 2005. “The Election Management Body: Belize’s Experience in Post-Independence.” Paper presented at the Conference “Improving the Quality of ElectionManagement. New Delhi, India February 24, 2005.-----. 2007. “Annual Report April 2006 to March 2007—Office of Governance, 85
  47. 47. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize Government of Belize”. Belize: Government of Belize.Pandy, Kwesi. 2008. “Talk For Show.” The Reporter. 20 July 2008Reid, Mike G. “The Colour of Journalism in Belize.” The Belize Times. 20 July 2008“Registration Drama in Orange Walk”. July 11, 1993. The People’s Pulse. Pg. 4.“SPEAR Gives Independent Assessment of Elections.” March , 2009.www.channel5belize.com.“The Blue Tsunami”. October 22, 2010. www.belizetimes.bz 86
  48. 48. A Review of Municipal Elections in Post-independent Belize Appendix i MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 2009 Voter Turnout Variances in *Official and Actual Data Municipality *Official Glessima’s Variance Data Calculation Belize City 42.10 41.94 .16 Belmopan 51.46 51.29 .17 Corozal 63.57 63.31 .26 Orange Walk 66.86 66.26 .60 San Pedro Ambergris 61.34 61.06 .28 Benque 66.41 66.30 .11 San Ignacio/Santa Elena 54.29 54.22 .07 Dangriga 51.23 50.98 .25 Punta Gorda 58.59 58.43 .16 National Average 57.32 57.09 -- Source: 2006 & 2009—website www.elections.gov.bz on March 25, 2009*2009 slightly overstated due to wrong calculations & wrong divisor used Website modifications between March 6 and March 25, 2009: 1. Belize City changed from 43.90% to 42.10% 2. San Ignacio changed from 22.85% to 42.41% to 54.29% 87

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