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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) won a narrow victory in the general elections in Barbados on Thursday, beating the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) by 16 seats to 14.

However, a recount was taking place in one of the constituencies narrowly won by the BLP candidate by fewer than ten votes.

Both party leaders, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and BLP leader Owen Arthur, retained their seats; however, labour minister Esther Byer-Sukoo was defeated by newcomer Dwight Sutherland. Voter turnout was close to 60 percent.

In handing the DLP the slimmest of majorities in the 30-seat House of Assembly, voters in Barbados went against what has been a clear trend in the region over the last two years of opposition parties regaining power, as well as contradicting local opinion polls that had favoured the BLP.

Nevertheless, in so doing the electorate maintained a Barbados tradition of always giving an incumbent party two terms in office.

In thanking supporters for the narrow victory, Stuart said, “We celebrating tonight because of the confidence which ordinary men and women… we are celebrating because this organisation during the last five years touched actual lives by its policies and programmes, not to any sample, but to the population itself.”

BLP leader and former prime minister Owen Arthur, whose future with the party must now be in some doubt, said, “The people have spoken… we accept the will of the people.”

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