2020 Belizean general election

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2020 Belizean general election

← 2015 11 November 2020 2025 →

All 31 seats in the House of Representatives
16 seats needed for a majority
Turnout81.86% (Increase9.17pp)
  First party Second party
  John Briceño (cropped).jpg Patrick Faber (cropped).jpg
Leader Johnny Briceño Patrick Faber
Party PUP UDP
Leader since 31 January 2016 (2016-01-31) 12 July 2020 (2020-07-12)
Leader's seat Orange Walk Central Collet
Last election 12 seats 19 seats
Seats won 26 5
Seat change Increase14 Decrease14
Popular vote 88,040 57,374
Percentage 59.60% 38.84%
Swing Increase11.83pp Decrease11.68pp

Prime Minister before election

Dean Barrow
UDP

Subsequent Prime Minister

Johnny Briceño
PUP

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
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General elections were held in Belize on 11 November 2020 to elect the 31 members of the House of Representatives.[1] Nomination day was 21 October.[2]

The People's United Party achieved its first national election victory since 2003, winning 26 seats, while the incumbent United Democratic Party had its worst result since 1998, winning the remaining 5 seats.[3] Despite the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a recent tropical storm, election turnout was over 81%, the highest since 1998.[4]

The election also featured the first female party leader and Prime Ministerial candidate in Belizean general election history: Nancy Marin, leader of the Belize People's Front.[5]

Several high-profile MP's also chose not to contest the elections. The previous prime minister, Dean Barrow (UDP), was constitutionally required to step down after serving three terms in office; having been an MP since 1984, he also decided to retire from the House. His predecessor as prime minister, Said Musa (PUP), also chose to retire; Musa was the last remaining MP to have served before independence in 1981.

Date[edit]

The previous general elections were held on 4 November 2015, and the new National Assembly was opened on 13 November 2015.[6] According to Section 84 of the Constitution of Belize, the National Assembly must be dissolved "five years from the date when the two Houses of the former National Assembly first met" unless dissolved sooner by the Governor-General of Belize upon the advice of the prime minister.[7] A general election must be called within three months of a dissolution, which meant the latest possible date for the next Belizean general election would be 13 February 2021.[6]

Despite the five-year term, three of the last four general elections had been called at least a year early. Both Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the opposition People's United Party were on record supporting the reduction of the maximum term of the National Assembly to four years.[8]

Barrow initially stated his intention to retire as Prime Minister no later than the end of 2019, but changed his mind to stay on until 2020 at the urging of his Cabinet. However, he said that he would still retire as the United Democratic Party Leader at the party's national convention and leadership election, which was first tentatively scheduled for 9 February 2020. He strongly hinted at a snap election in early 2020.[9] But in May 2019, Barrow dismissed that remark and said that elections would be held in November 2020.[10]

On 5 October 2020, Barrow called the elections for 11 November, with Nominations Day on 21 October. The Writ of Election was formally filed by the Governor-General immediately afterwards.[2] He advised the Governor-General to dissolve the National Assembly on 6 October.[11]

The Belize Peace Movement (BPM), a civil society organisation, filed a court petition in December 2019 for a redistricting process to be held before the next elections. In the BPM's view, the district map in use did not reflect the distribution of the population, leading to unequal representation. As no action had been taken by the court before the election announcement on 6 October, the BPM filed for a Supreme Court injunction on 13 October to delay the election until this process could be completed. The PUP joined the case on the side of the government, arguing that they would lose their campaign money if the election were to be delayed. On 28 October, acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana ruled in favour of the Government: as the election process had already begun and the National Assembly had already been dissolved, the court did not have jurisdiction to intervene.[12]

During election week, Tropical Storm Eta led to flooding in parts of the country. While Barrow acknowledged that postponing the election would be possible (with the approval of the participating parties), he decided to stay with 11 November as there was no explicit provision for postponement in the Constitution. [13]

Debates[edit]

For the first time since 1998,[14] a Prime Ministerial debate was held, organized jointly by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Galen University and LOVE FM.[15] It was scheduled for 28 October, and the rules and format were taken from the Jamaica Debates Commission.[16] The questions were submitted by a variety of local NGO's, business associations, and unions. As of 23 October, three of the four invited party leaders had announced their participation in the debate.[17] The remaining invitee, Johnny Briceño of the PUP, wanted to meet privately with the organizers before deciding to participate. The organizers had already released the debate rules publicly; since one of the rules prohibited private communication between the organizers and the participants, the organizers did not reply to the PUP.[16] Patrick Faber of the UDP then decided not to participate either. [18] In the end, the debate was held between Belize Progressive Party leader Patrick Rogers and Belize People's Front leader Nancy Marin.[19] The debate was livestreamed on each of the organizer's Facebook pages, attracting 33,500 viewers overall.[20]

At the constituency level, the Dangriga-based NGO "Citizens for Good Governance" (CGG) organized a debate on 3 November between the two challenger candidates, Louis Zabaneh (PUP) and John Suazo (BPF). The incumbent, Frank Mena (UDP), declined to participate.[21][22] This debate was broadcast live on Dangriga Cable Vision (Channel 58).[23] It was also livestreamed from the Facebook pages of the CGG, Southern Belize Media, and Tropical Vision Limited.[24]

Background[edit]

Contesting parties[edit]

With the exception of the Belize Progressive Party, led by Patrick Rogers in the 2015 elections, all parties were contesting under first-time leaders.

Party Position Ideology Leader

(since)

Slogan and Manifesto Campaign Song
United Democratic Party (UDP) Centre-right Conservatism Patrick Faber
(October 2020)
"Because YOUR Future Matters"[25] "Your Future Matters!"

"Staying with the UDP" [26]

People's United Party (PUP) Centre to centre-left Christian democracy
Social democracy
Nationalism
Johnny Briceño
(January 2016)
"#PlanBelize"[27] "Vote BLU, Everybody fi win" (Todos Ganamos)"[28]
Belize Progressive Party (BPP) Centre-left to left-wing Social democracy
Reformism
Republicanism
Patrick Rogers
(September 2015)
"Changing the system in Belize"[29] "For Progress! BPP for Belize!" [30]
Belize People's Front (BPF) Centre to centre-left Progressivism

Christian democracy

Nancy Marin
(October 2013)
"Breaking Corruption. Building a Nation."[31] "Time fi mek di change" "BELIZE" [32]

UDP[edit]

The ruling United Democratic Party, in power since 2008, attempted to win a fourth consecutive general election. However, as the Constitution of Belize limits the Prime Minister to three terms in office,[33] the UDP needed to contest with a new leader. To this end, the incumbent UDP leader and Prime Minister Dean Barrow had stated his intention to step down from both posts in the months leading up to the election. The UDP tentatively scheduled a May 2019 convention to name Barrow's successor as party leader,[34] but in January 2019 the date was pushed back to February 2020. Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber and Belmopan Area Representative John Saldivar contested the position. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Pickstock Area Representative Wilfred Elrington had also been mentioned as a possible candidate, but did not stand in the convention.[35][36]

On 9 February 2020, Saldivar was elected UDP leader over Faber, but three days later was forced to resign after allegations surfaced he accepted US$50,000 from accused fraudster Lev Dermen, who was on trial in Salt Lake City. Saldivar was also stripped of his Cabinet post.[37]

On 12 July 2020, a second leadership convention was held with Faber, Saldivar, and Elrington as candidates. This time, Faber won with a margin of 19 votes over Saldivar (286 to 267). Elrington received 10 votes.[38] Faber was formally inaugurated as party leader on 9 October, with Barrow continuing to serve as Prime Minister until the elections.[39]

PUP[edit]

Despite gains in Belize City in 2015, most notably Kareem Musa's upset win over Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley in the Caribbean Shores constituency, the opposition PUP remained at 11 seats overall thanks to losses in the Cayo and Corozal Districts. For its leader, the PUP chose Johnny Briceño, who had served as Deputy Prime Minister in the previous PUP administration.[40] Francis Fonseca, who led the party during the past two general elections, resigned from leadership soon after the party's 2015 loss. Although Briceño served a previous term as PUP leader from 2008 to 2011, he had yet to lead the party during a general election.[41] Briceño, who represented a constituency in Orange Walk Town, was the first PUP member to lead the party in an election from outside Belize City. Belizean news sources pointed out that the PUP nominated only 2 female candidates out of 31 total, while the UDP had nominated 5.[42]

BPP[edit]

The Belize Progressive Party, which made its electoral debut in 2015 but failed to win any seats, announced its intention to contest nine seats,[43] of which they ultimately filed for eight.

BPF[edit]

The Belize People's Front, a progressive party, announced its intention to contest 17 seats,[44] of which they ultimately filed for 13. The party was founded in 2013, but this was its first general election.[45] BPF leader Nancy Marin was the first female political party leader in Belize.[42]

Retirements[edit]

The election was marked by several high-profile retirements. Fonseca had initially indicated that he would not stand in this election.[46] However, he decided to stay for the last time. Former PUP leader Said Musa also stood down from his seat in this election. Musa, who contested the Belize City-based Fort George constituency in every election since 1974, was the sole remaining House member from before Belize's 1981 independence from Great Britain.[47]

On the UDP side, former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega also announced that he would stand down.[48] Other announced UDP retirements include Barrow – who had served in the Belize House continuously since 1984 – and Michael Finnegan, who had been in office since 1993. Moses Barrow, Dean Barrow's son and Finnegan's nephew, was nominated to succeed Finnegan as the UDP standard bearer in the Mesopotamia constituency.[49] Veteran UDP Area Representative Wilfred Elrington also did not seek re-election.[50]

Candidates by district[edit]

Belize District[edit]

District Division UDP PUP BPP BPF Incumbent [51]
Belize Freetown Orson Jerome "OJ" Elrington Francis Fonseca Francis Fonseca
Belize Caribbean Shores Lee Mark Chang Kareem David Musa Kareem Musa
Belize Pickstock Anthony "Uncle Boots" Martinez Anthony Robert Mahler Patrick Raymond Rogers Wilfred Elrington
Belize Fort George Melvin "Mello" Hewlett Henry Charles Usher Sr. William "Wil" Maheia Said Musa
Belize Albert Tracy Ann Panton Paul Adrian Thompson Tracy Ann Panton
Belize Queen's Square Denise "Sista B" Barrow Allan Pollard Gary Matus Dean Barrow
Belize Mesopotamia Shyne Barrow (Dr.) Candice Pitts Michael Finnegan
Belize Lake Independence Dianne "Miss D" Finnegan Cordel Hyde Cordel Hyde
Belize Collet Patrick Faber Oscar "Polo" Arnold Patrick Faber
Belize Port Loyola "Superman" Philip Willoughby Gilroy Usher Sr. "Boo Boo" Evan Thompson Anthony Martinez
Belize Belize Rural North Edmond “Clear The Land” Castro Marconi Prince Leal Karen Sharon Banner Edmond Castro
Belize Belize Rural Central Beverly Williams Dolores Balderamos-Garcia Lion Bennett Luz Maria Hunter Beverly Williams
Belize Belize Rural South Manuel Heredia "Andre" Perez Thomas Henry Greenwood Jr. Junior Heredia

Corozal District[edit]

District Division UDP PUP BPP BPF Independents Incumbent [51]
Corozal Corozal Bay Pablo Marin David "Dido" Vega Carlos Javier Sawers Pablo Marin
Corozal Corozal North Hugo Patt David Castillo Alfonso Acosta Hugo Amilcar Patt
Corozal Corozal South East Antonio "Tony" Herrera Florencio Julian Marin Jr. Edna Doris Diaz Eloim Ellis Florencio Julian Marin
Corozal Corozal South West Dr. Angel Campos Ramiro Ramirez Laurencio Lucio Bul Angel Campos

Orange Walk District[edit]

District Division UDP PUP BPF Incumbent [51]
Orange Walk Orange Walk Central Denni Grijalva Johnny Briceño Antonia Cruz Sanchez Johnny Briceño
Orange Walk Orange Walk North Carlos Zetina Ramon "Monchi" Cervantes Marino Assi Gaspar Vega
Orange Walk Orange Walk East Elodio "Son Of The East" Aragon Jr. Kevin Bernard Lorenzo Adrian "Andy" Aldana Elodio Aragon Jr.
Orange Walk Orange Walk South Guadalupe "Lupe" Dyck Magaña Jose Abelardo Mai Eber Misael Herrador Jose Abelardo Mai

Cayo District[edit]

District Division UDP PUP BPF Independents Incumbent [51]
Cayo Cayo North Omar Figueroa Michel "Micho" Chebat Kurt Mathew Lizarraga Omar Figueroa
Cayo Cayo Central Rene Montero Alex Balona Rene Montero
Cayo Cayo West Erwin Rafael Contreras Jorge "Milon" Espat Eduardo Raul Ayala Erwin Contreras
Cayo Cayo South Ramon Francisco Witz Julius Espat Julius Espat
Cayo Cayo North East John Francis August Jr. Orlando "Landy" Habet Nefretery "Nancy" Martin Orlando Habet
Cayo Belmopan John Birchman Saldivar Oscar Mira Anna "ABG" Banner-Guy John Saldivar

Stann Creek District[edit]

District Division UDP PUP BPP BPF Independents Incumbent [51]
Stann Creek Dangriga Frank "Papa" Mena "Dr. Zab" Louis Zabaneh John Francis Suazo Frank Mena
Stann Creek Stann Creek West Ivan Hilbert Williams Rodwell Stephen Ferguson Hubert Alexander McCaulay Mateo Tomas Polanco
Melvin Hulse
Rodwell Ferguson

Toledo District[edit]

District Division UDP PUP Independents Incumbent [51]
Toledo Toledo East Dennis Garbutt Michael Espat Orlando Albert Muschamp Mike Espat
Toledo Toledo West Simeon Coc Oscar Requena Ruben Oscar Requena

Source: Belize Elections and Boundaries Department

Results[edit]

At the invitation of the Belizean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CARICOM sent a six-member observation team. The team's preliminary statement showed the elections to have been conducted in a smooth and timely manner; they especially commended the election commission's ability to implement COVID-19 sanitary measures while dealing with the effects of Tropical Storm Eta.[52]

The polls closed at 6:15 pm. With the early counts already forecasting a lead for the PUP, Faber delivered a concession speech on television three hours later, congratulating Briceño and the PUP while calling for national unity.[53] Election turnout was over 81%, the highest since 1998.[4]

The results showed the PUP achieving its first national election victory since 2003, winning 26 seats. By contrast, the incumbent United Democratic Party had its lowest result since 1998, winning the remaining 5 seats.[3] Four of the five UDP seats were in Belize City: Faber and Tracy Panton retained their seats, while Denise Barrow and Shyne Barrow won seats of retiring UDP members. The fifth seat was in Corozal, retained by incumbent Deputy Prime Minister Hugo Patt.[54]

Briceño was sworn in as the new Prime Minister on 12 November by the Governor-General.[55] He intended to swear in his cabinet on 16 November.[56]

2020 Belize House of Representatives.svg
PartyVotes%Seats+/–
People's United Party88,04059.6026+14
United Democratic Party57,37438.845–14
Belize People's Front8200.560New
Belize Progressive Party5480.3700
Independents9240.6300
Total147,706100.00310
Valid votes147,70698.70
Invalid/blank votes1,9441.30
Total votes149,650100.00
Registered voters/turnout182,81581.86
Source: Elections & Boundaries Department, The Tribune

By division[edit]

Division Electorate Turnout % Political party Candidate Votes %
Albert 2,886 2,531 87.70 United Democratic Party Tracy Ann Panton 1,271 50.82
People's United Party Paul Adrian Thompson 1,230 49.18
Belize Rural Central 7,445 5,956 80.00 People's United Party Dolores Balderamos-Garcia 3,409 58.67
United Democratic Party Beverly Williams 2,166 37.28
Belize Progressive Party Lion Bennett 181 3.12
Belize People's Front Luz Maria Hunter 54 0.93
Belize Rural North 4,721 3,903 82.67 People's United Party Marconi Prince Leal 2,238 58.01
United Democratic Party Edmond “Clear The Land” Castro 1,568 40.64
Belize Progressive Party Karen Sharon Banner 52 1.35
Belize Rural South 8,586 6,887 80.21 People's United Party "Andre" Perez 4,336 63.84
United Democratic Party Manuel Heredia 2,419 35.62
Belize People's Front Thomas Henry Greenwood Jr. 37 0.54
Belmopan 8,758 6,943 79.28 People's United Party Oscar Mira 4,172 60.82
United Democratic Party John Birchman Saldivar 2,004 29.21
Independent Anna "ABG" Banner-Guy 684 9.97
Caribbean Shores 4,363 3,726 85.40 People's United Party Kareem David Musa 2,194 59.60
United Democratic Party Lee Mark Chang 1,487 40.40
Cayo Central 8,107 6,219 76.71 People's United Party Alex Balona 3,434 55.99
United Democratic Party Rene Montero 2,699 44.01
Cayo North 8,058 6,679 82.89 People's United Party Michel "Micho" Chebat 3,745 56.77
United Democratic Party Omar Figueroa 2,790 42.29
Belize People's Front Kurt Mathew Lizarraga 62 0.94
Cayo North East 5,706 4,764 83.49 People's United Party Orlando "Landy" Habet 2,996 63.35
United Democratic Party John Francis August Jr. 1,674 35.40
Belize People's Front Nefretery "Nancy" Martin 59 1.25
Cayo South 7,069 5,261 74.42 People's United Party Julius Espat 4,071 78.53
United Democratic Party Ramon Francisco Witz 1,113 21.47
Cayo West 6,465 5,340 82.60 People's United Party Jorge "Milon" Espat 2,703 51.50
United Democratic Party Erwin Rafael Contreras 2,478 47.21
Belize People's Front Eduardo Raul Ayala 68 1.29
Collet 3,732 3,037 81.38 United Democratic Party Patrick Faber 1,834 61.63
People's United Party Oscar "Polo" Arnold 1,142 38.37
Corozal Bay 5,410 4,475 82.72 People's United Party David "Dido" Vega 2,402 54.37
United Democratic Party Pablo Marin 1,994 45.13
Independent Carlos Javier Sawers 22 0.50
Corozal North 7,000 6,155 87.93 United Democratic Party Hugo Patt 3,479 56.96
People's United Party David Castillo 2,563 41.96
Belize People's Front Alfonso Acosta 66 1.08
Corozal South East 7,012 6,138 87.54 People's United Party Florencio Julian Marin Jr. 3,413 55.97
United Democratic Party Antonio "Tony" Herrera 2,614 42.87
Belize People's Front Eloim Ellis 57 0.93
Belize Progressive Party Edna Doris Diaz 14 0.23
Corozal South West 5,888 5,130 87.13 People's United Party Ramiro Ramirez 2,898 56.91
United Democratic Party Angel Campos 2,142 42.07
Belize People's Front Laurencio Lucio Bul 52 1.02
Dangriga 5,482 4,212 76.83 People's United Party "Dr. Zab" Louis Zabaneh 2,600 62.55
United Democratic Party Frank "Papa" Mena 1,501 36.11
Belize People's Front John Francis Suazo 56 1.34
Fort George 1,876 1,541 82.14 People's United Party Henry Charles Usher Sr. 983 64.84
United Democratic Party Melvin "Mello" Hewlett 499 32.92
Belize Progressive Party William "Wil" Maheia 34 2.24
Freetown 3,782 3,114 82.34 People's United Party Francis Fonseca 2,114 68.79
United Democratic Party Orson Jerome "OJ" Elrington 959 31.21
Lake Independence 4,863 3,958 81.39 People's United Party Cordel Hyde 3,539 90.79
United Democratic Party Dianne "Miss D" Finnegan 359 9.21
Mesopotamia 2,277 1,715 75.32 United Democratic Party Shyne Barrow 910 54.79
People's United Party Candice Pitts 751 45.21
Orange Walk Central 6,045 5,157 85.31 People's United Party Johnny Briceño 2,902 56.87
United Democratic Party Denni Grijalva 2,140 41.94
Belize People's Front Antonia Cruz Sanchez 61 1.19
Orange Walk East 7,033 6,038 85.85 People's United Party Kevin Bernard 3,277 54.96
United Democratic Party Elodio "Son Of The East" Aragon Jr. 2,612 43.80
Belize People's Front Lorenzo Adrian "Andy" Aldana 74 1.24
Orange Walk North 7,833 6,785 86.62 People's United Party Ramon "Monchi" Cervantes 4,043 60.09
United Democratic Party Carlos Zetina 2,628 39.06
Belize People's Front Marino Assi 57 0.85
Orange Walk South 6,858 5,782 84.31 People's United Party Jose Abelardo Mai 3,499 61.34
United Democratic Party Guadalupe "Lupe" Dyck Magaña 2,088 36.61
Belize People's Front Eber Misael Herrador 117 2.05
Pickstock 3,997 3,281 82.09 People's United Party Anthony Robert Mahler 2,570 80.21
United Democratic Party Anthony "Uncle Boots" Martinez 574 17.92
Belize Progressive Party Patrick Raymond Rogers 60 1.87
Port Loyola 4,717 3,649 77.36 People's United Party Gilroy Usher Sr. 2,106 58.98
United Democratic Party "Superman" Philip Willoughby 1,313 36.77
Belize Progressive Party "Boo Boo" Evan Thompson 152 4.25
Queen's Square 2,714 2,431 89.57 United Democratic Party Denise "Sista B" Barrow 1,351 56.43
People's United Party Allan Pollard 1,020 42.61
Belize Progressive Party Gary Matus 23 0.96
Stann Creek West 9,864 7,745 78.52 People's United Party Rodwell Stephen Ferguson 4,900 64.23
United Democratic Party Ivan Hilbert Williams 2,509 32.89
Independent Melvin Hulse 179 2.35
Belize Progressive Party Hubert Alexander McCaulay 32 0.42
Independent Mateo Tomas Polanco 9 0.11
Toledo East 6,831 4,698 68.77 People's United Party Michael Espat 2,869 61.65
United Democratic Party Dennis Garbutt 1,755 37.71
Independent Orlando Albert Muschamp 30 0.54
Toledo West 7,437 6,400 86.06 People's United Party Oscar Requena 3,921 61.60
United Democratic Party Simeon Coc 2,444 38.40
Source: Elections & Boundaries Department

Reactions[edit]

Additional congratulations were sent by the Organization of American States.[58]

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