The political landscape in Belize seems to be rapidly changing with the announcements that Ms. Lisa Shoman and Mr. Moses (Shyne) Barrow are throwing their hats into the political ring.
Ms. Shoman will be competing for the job of Party Leader of the People’s United Party, and Mr. Barrow will be competing for the honour of representing the voters of the Mesopotamia Division, which is the division Mr. Michael Finnegan has dominated for the last 20 years.
Both Ms. Shoman and Mr. Barrow are aspiring to positions of prestige. Of course both will have to face conventions to obtain support and approval from their party faithful.
Mr. Moses Barrow’s announcement has put to rest any lingering hope the voters of Queen’s Square may have entertained that Prime Minister Dean Barrow would or could be persuaded to remain in active politics after the year 2020. So for the UDP, the end of his term will be like the end of an era. Voters of Queen’s Square will be genuinely sorry to see him go, but his legacy in Queen’s Square may not easily be bequeathed to his son Moses, who has had a scarred history in the United States and who has little or no record of service to Belize.
Ms. Shoman on the other hand, has a much better chance, even if she is not endorsed as Party Leader this time around. She can, if she chooses, inherit the seat of incumbent, out-going Party Leader Francis Fonseca of the Freetown constituency. This will put her in good standing to make a successful bid for the party leadership, if not now, then certainly the next time around.
There is a certain attractiveness in having a woman as Party Leader and Prime Minister – an attractiveness which will not be lost on women voters who make up at least 50 percent of Belize’s electoral roll.
The UDP will not be as well placed five years from now. With Prime Minister Barrow out of the picture by his own choosing, the party may see some strategic advantage in presenting a woman candidate for Prime Minister in 2020.