General elections were held in Belize on 14 December 1984 for all 28 seats in the House of Representatives using a first-past-the-post system.
Elections were held for all the members of the House of Representatives for the first time since independence in September 1981. The election was called on 21 November 1984 in accordance with a transitional provision of the Constitution.
In its more than 30 years of existence the ruling People's United Party had never lost an election at the national level, whilst the opposition had never won more than six seats (out of a possible eighteen in 1974). However, by 1984 the PUP were presiding over an economy in recession and that had just recently been bailed out by the International Monentary Fund (IMF). The party was internally fractured and faced a United Democratic Party that had made significant gains since losing the last general election in 1979. Senator Manuel Esquivel – who Prime Minister George Price defeated in his own House constituency in 1979 – became UDP leader in December 1983.
Just a few months before the election, Price ordered a redistricting of electoral boundaries. This created 10 new constituencies for a total of 28, but the majority were upset because of claims that the PUP drew the boundaries with victory in mind.
Political Parties & Candidates
A total of 61 candidates contested the election.
On polling day, the ruling People's United Party (PUP), led by Prime Minister George Price (who was running for his seventh consecutive term), suffered an unexpectedly large defeat to the conservative United Democratic Party (UDP), headed by Manuel Esquivel; the latter captured 21 of the 28 House seats.
Price was defeated in his Freetown constituency after over 30 years of continuous service in the Belize House of Representatives and its predecessors.
Observers attributed the centre-left PUP's setback in part to the electorate's wish for a change as well as to Belize's economic difficulties, caused especially by a fall in the world price of sugar, the country's main export product. In the campaign, the UDP had advocated the need for more foreign investment in Belize and less government control of the economy. The PUP was reportedly also damaged by internal dissension.
Voter turnout was 74.92%.
On 17 December, Esquivel was sworn in as Prime Minister, the first non-PUP leader in the nation's history. The following day, he announced the membership of his Cabinet.
Price continued to lead the PUP from outside the National Assembly while Florencio Marin became Leader of the Opposition.