On Thursday afternoon, the People’s United Party conceded defeat in the municipal elections at a press conference. On the heels of the loss of the Cayo North seat there is open speculation about the future of the People’s United Party and the leadership of Francis Fonseca, who has led the party to successive defeats at national and local level since being named leader in 2011.
On Thursday, Mr Fonseca, flanked by senior party officials, reiterated that he has the full support of his party to continue as leader.
Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Peoples’ United Party
“In the wake of any election defeat, and certainly this was a very decisive defeat, a very decisive victory for the People’s United Party with potentially two years to come before a general election, I think everybody has to take a look at themselves and it starts with the leader.
The leader has to look in the mirror. The leader has to self-examine. So I think it’s an absolutely legitimate question, but I have given no thought to resignation, and I will tell you why. Because from as early as this morning, late last night into early morning, I started getting calls from standard bearers, representatives from across the country. I think of the thirty-one representatives, I was trying to tally it in my head just before I came in, about twenty-four of them have called me since last night into this morning, to all express their confidence in me, their trust in me.
They are disappointed like I am. But I would say that without exception all of them said ‘Party Leader you did everything that you could. You fought a good fight.’
We have to now sit back and examine the weaknesses we have in our Party, and I understand that. I too have to look at myself. What can I do better? What are my failings, and all of them expressed solidarity with me and confidence in moving forward with me. What they said, man and woman alike, is that we all have to stand together. We have to be united in this Party.”
Francis Fonseca acknowledged that the party continues to struggle with a lack of financial resources, but told us that for this election and future ones, the party will continue to rely on lower-level sources of financing. He specifically addressed the issue of accepting campaign financing from Lord Michael Ashcroft, saying that the party would not accept such financing if there were strings attached.
“I have received no such offer from Mr Ashcroft, and there are no terms under which we accept monies as a funding. I have made that very clear. We do not do so on any terms.
If people wish to support and assist the work of the Opposition, the Peoples’ United Party, we are prepared to accept that assistance, but on that basis, that you are simply assisting the work of the Opposition and Peoples’ United Party, because you believe that we could prove to be a more viable alternative to the present government. We do not operate on that basis of agreeing to accept finance in return for anything.”
The party’s performance from top to bottom will be subject to internal review to get to the bottom of what happened. But might there be a new leader, perhaps former face of the party John Briceno? While not showing any aspirations for a return to leadership, Mr Briceno has been recorded criticizing Fonseca’s leadership. That matter, the current leader says, will be discussed internally.
In Belize City, only Fort George and Lake Independence divisions went completely in favor of the PUP, with Francis Fonseca’s own Freetown Division favoring Darrell Bradley for Mayor, but supporting the PUP’s councilor candidates.