Barbados voters elect first-ever president to replace Queen

Barbados has elected its first-ever President after elections resulting in a victory for Leighton Spencer, 67, a former Barbadian prime minister and author, who will replace the Queen as head of state. Prime Minister…

Barbados voters elect first-ever president to replace Queen

Barbados has elected its first-ever President after elections resulting in a victory for Leighton Spencer, 67, a former Barbadian prime minister and author, who will replace the Queen as head of state. Prime Minister Mia Mottley called her rival, the incumbent David Thompson, to concede defeat and congratulate her new president in a speech delivered early Wednesday morning local time. “I am more than delighted with the result. I am also humbled and honoured.”

The win, in the island’s 40th national general election, could further upend constitutional custom in the Caribbean nation. Though Barbados has not had an elected president since 1969, the monarchy remains the head of state. When the leader of the federal government dies or is removed from office, the Queen automatically assumes the role. Candidates in the British House of Lords have never been elected, but other West Indian Commonwealth countries, such as Jamaica, have held direct presidential elections. Barbados is one of only a handful of Commonwealth members without an elected head of state.

Last week, Britain’s campaigning during the election drew controversy in Barbados when Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party and one of the most prominent British Brexit campaigners, openly endorsed Simmons for the office. Mr. Farage presented him at a press conference in Barbados on Friday, just days before he was forced to resign after leaked audio of him making lewd comments about women were posted on Facebook. During the election campaign, Simmons was blasted by opposition leader Omar Davies, whose party came in third place. “He who feels himself strong and reaches a certain level of popularity and power simply takes to abusing it,” said Mr. Davies, who is set to serve a second term as speaker of the national parliament.

The results will not be official until Wednesday night, but there is little doubt that a victory for Spencer will send shockwaves through the multilateral community. Mr. Spencer’s first task as President will be to mark a bicentennial birthday milestone of the country’s oldest colony: 1816 Barbados Day. Should he decide to recognize the event, which falls on March 24, it will be the first celebration of the anniversary of the former British colony’s independence from the Commonwealth.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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