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Big turnout for Barbados polls

l BRIDGETOWN

Barbadians yesterday cast their votes in a general election that political observers say could be historic if the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) fails to win a second five-year term in power.

No government since the island attained its political independence from Britain in 1966 has failed to obtain a second consecutive term, but the opinion polls suggested the DLP is in danger of becoming the first party that would fail to maintain the feat.

The Electoral and Boundaries Commission said 247,211 voters were eligible to cast ballots, as compared with 243,501 in 2008, and at some of the 541 polling stations, there were long lines as voters sought to take advantage of the cool, early morning temperature.

The Meteorological Office predicted a hot and sunny day, with temperatures rising to 31 degrees.

There were 68 candidates in the race for the 30-seat Parliament, and electoral officials said voting, which began at 6 a.m., continued for the next 12 hours.

The opinion polls suggested the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which was trounced by a 20-10 margin in the 2008 general election, would be the likely winner of the election, but as the party wound up its final meeting on the outskirts of the capital on Wednesday night, Owen Arthur, its leader, urged supporters not to stay home and "think we have won because the opinion polls say so". —CMC

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