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Dominica Freedom Party (DFP)

The Dominica Freedom Party is a conservative political party in Dominica.

Formed in 1968 as an alternative to the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), the Dominica Freedom Party espoused a business-friendly, right-of-center platform. The Freedom party emerged from “Freedom Fighters” which was formed to protest the so called “Shut Your Mouth Bill” (the Seditious and Undesirable Publications Act). The DFP also included the remnants of the 1957 Dominica United People’s Party, disaffected members of LeBlanc’s Labour Party (including founder Phyllis Shand Allfrey).

Mary Eugenia Charles formed the DFP in 1968 as a reaction against the anti-civil libertarian Seditious and Undesirable Publication Act of Premier Edward Oliver LeBlanc. The DFP won two seats in the 1970 general election, although Charles lost her bid for a seat. Charles, the party leader, did capture a seat in 1975 when the DFP won three seats and became the official opposition party. In June 1977, Charles led her party into the Committee of National Salvation (CNS), a loose amalgam of opposition groups that formed against the government of Patrick R. John, a regime that was perceived to be both anti-labour and antidemocratic. The DFP also opposed the 1978 independence move, Charles kept the DFP out of the interim coalition government established on 21 June 1979, following the re­moval of Prime Minister John's government. This proved to be good strategy; the DFP won 17 of 21 one seats in the July 1980 election.

As chair of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, Charles became the prime legitimizer in the region for Reagan's intervention in Grenada in 1983. Charles and her party won the 1985 election, sixteen seats to four for the Dominica Labour Party and one seat for the United Dominica Labour Party. Although rising unemployment and growing unpopularity among the youth cost the DFP votes and five seats in the July 1990 general election, Charles and the DFP captured a five-seat plurality over the United Workers Party and a one- seat majority over the combined opposition.

Heading the government of a small, poor state in the shadow of the lone superpower presents inherent problems. As Charles once commented, when you are poor and small you have to learn to beg carefully. Her skills will be tested in the years ahead as the United States reduces its interest in the Caribbean and directs its gaze toward Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

The DFP won a plu­rality of 35.8 percent of the votes in the balloting of June 12. 1995, but captured only 5 of 21 house seals, 1 of which was briefly vacated in July 1995 by the High Court, which ruled that the incumbent was a public service employee.

The DFP won two legislative seats in January 2000, thereafter joining the DLP in a government coalition. It secured no parliamentary represen­tation in the May 2005 poll, although party leader, Charles Savarin, served briefly as foreign minister in the Skerrit administration. The appoinimeni was criticised by most of his colleagues, who elected busi­nessman Michael Astaphan to succeed him as party leader in August 2007. Subsequently, Astaphan was succeeded by hotelier Judith Pestaina.
In the July 2009 election, the party won no legislative seats and only 2.39 percent of the popular vote. Pestaina stepped down in October 2012 and Astaphan became interim leader.

QUICK FACTS
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Leader Michael ASTAPHAN
Founded 1968
Party Colour Green
Party Symbol Hand
Ideology Conservatism, Liberal Conservatism, and Anti-Sovietism
Status Active
First election 1980
Last election 2009
RELATED RESOURCES
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Politcal Parties of Dominica
Dominica Elections
Political Dynamics in Dominica
PARTY RESOURCES
Download Manifesto
DFP 2009 Manifesto
   
PARTY PERFORMANCE
Category 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2009
Candidates 16 19 21 21 21 12 2 12
Seats 3 17 15 11 5 2 0 0
Votes 10,523 15,706 18,865 16,529 13,317 4,862 1,271 870
% Valid Votes 49.32% 51.34% 56.68% 49.43% 35.81% 13.63% 3.35% 2.40%
Change 10.99% 2.02% 5.35% -7.26% -13.61% -22.18% -10.28% -0.95%
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