General elections were held in Belize on 27 August 1998 for all 29 seats in the House of Representatives using a first-past-the-post system.
Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel advised Governor General Sir Colville Young to dissolve the House of Representatives on 13 July 1998. The House stood dissolved with effect from 15 July 1998.
Election day was set for 27 August 1998 and Nomination Day was set for 11 August 1998.
Political Parties & Candidates
Five political parties nominated 75 candidates, with three independents contesting the election. As at the previous elections in 1993, the main contending parties for the 29 House seats were the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) and the opposition People’s United Party (PUP); both were considered centrist groups. The National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR), which had run in coalition with the UDP in the previous election, chose to run on its own despite its sole member in the House, Philip Goldson, standing down.
Campaign debate focused largely on economic issues. In this connection, the PUP pledged, among other things, to remove the 1996 value-added-tax and to create 15,000 new jobs as part of a development programme.
On a polling day marked by a large turnout, the PUP, led by Said Musa, swept to a landslide victory, picking up 13 additional seats, increasing their total to 26 seats, and leaving the UDP of Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel with only three.
Several high-ranking UDP members went down to defeat, most notably Esquivel himself in Caribbean Shores. Only Barrow in Queen's Square and Michael Finnegan in Mesopotamia retained their seats for the UDP, while Erwin Contrerasnarrowly defeated the PUP's Amin Hegar in Cayo West for the UDP's third seat
Voter turnout was 90.14%.
Musa was sworn in as Prime Minister on 28 August and the new PUP Cabinet on 1 September. Dean Barrow became UDP leader shortly after the election.