Patrick J. Faber of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) conceded defeat even as vote counters tallied ballots.
Faber had led the UDP into the elections after Prime Minister Dean O. Barrow, who led Belize since 2008, did not seek re-election.
The PUP won 26 seats while the UDP were only able to garner 5 in an election that saw voter turnout reached 81%.
“I sent a note to the honourable John Briceno in which I expressed my heartfelt congratulations on the election victory for him and the People’s United Party,” ruling party candidate Patrick J. Faber said on Wednesday night, November 11, 2020.
“The challenges that he and his government will face will not be easy and he will need all the support he can garner to see our great nation through the long road to recovery.”
The economy is set to shrink 16% this year, the biggest drop since at least 1980, according to the International Monetary Fund, after the country shut its borders in April to combat the spread of Covid-19. It only reopened its airports to international visitors last month.
The election was also held in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, which hit the region last week.
Briceno has pledged to crackdown on corruption, revive agriculture and tourism and fast track a stimulus package through parliament. He will take over a nation of 400,000 people weighed down by one of the world’s heaviest debt loads and a tourism industry shattered by the pandemic.