ST. JOHN'S, Antigua (AP) -- The political dynasty that has ruled Antigua
for generations seemed set for victory, turning back its fiercest challenge in
years in a parliamentary election dominated by claims of corruption.
Only hours after polls closed Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Lester Bird
appeared headed for a win, though many races were closer than they had
ever been. One recount was ordered when a candidate in Bird's Antigua
Labor Party won by only 17 votes.
Bird's party had won six seats so far, including two seized from the United
Progressive Party. Bird's party held 11 out of the 17 seats in the previous
House of Representatives.
Elections officials reported a steady turnout throughout the day.
"There's a level of unpredictability because of a whole new slew of young
voters," Bird told reporters before casting his ballot. "Whereas before, we
could count on the old stalwarts coming out and voting."
Those "old stalwarts" were loyal to Bird's father, Vere Bird, a union leader
who successfully fought British plantation owners in the 1940s and
subsequently led Antigua and Barbuda to independence in 1981.
Member of Bird's family have won every election in Antigua except for a
1971 vote, won by a fractious opposition coalition that failed to govern
effectively. Lester Bird was elected in 1994 when his father ret