Allen Chastanet, a businessman and former minister of tourism, was sworn in Tuesday as prime minister of Saint Lucia after his United Workers Party won 11 out of 17 seats to control the government.
The island became the latest English-speaking Caribbean nation to see a change of government in less than a year after voters booted out the ruling Saint Lucia Labor Party in Monday’s general elections. Opposition parties also regained power in Jamaica in February and Trinidad in September.
Like in those other island nations, the economy is the dominant issue for Saint Lucia voters.
“Our party is taking over at a very difficult time,” Chastanet said in his victory speech, noting the island’s high unemployment rate and debt of over $1 billion.
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On Election Day, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony acknowledged that his introduction of a consumption tax had made him an unpopular leader and finance minister. But the economy, he said, was undergoing a turnaround.
In his concession speech, Anthony told citizens that the UWP’s win “was a convincing victory.”
“It is clear there was a major nation swing against the Saint Lucia Labor party,” Anthony said, while announcing that he would not serve as Leader of the Opposition despite regaining his seat.
Chastanet said voters had become “fed up” with Anthony and disappointed in the Labor party, but added that now was the time for the country to heal. His first priorities included naming a cabinet and tackling the country’s financial woes.
“There are many projects that this government has started just in the recent weeks that my government will immediately be reviewing and determining whether we are going to continue with them,” Chastanet said.