|PLP strikes gold|
Guardian Managing Editor
Published: May 08, 2012
Perry Christie led his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) to a landslide victory in yesterday’s general election, wiping out Hubert Ingraham and the Free National Movement (FNM) in one of the biggest wins in Bahamian political history.
The PLP appeared to have won 29 of the 38 seats in Parliament — 20 in New Providence, three in Grand Bahama and six in the Family Islands, according to unofficial results. It looked as if the FNM managed to hang on to only three seats in New Providence, two in Grand Bahama and four in the Family Islands.
“I would like to extend with the deepest humility my thanks to the Bahamian people for reposing their confidence in me and my party and for doing so in such a powerful and unequivocal voice. Now that the general elections are over, the hard work must now begin,” Christie told thousands of jubilant supporters who gathered at Clifford Park late last night to celebrate the PLP’s victory. “I pledge to you that I will give my very best and my colleagues who will join me in the new government will do the same. Great challenges lie ahead, but with God’s grace and the support of the Bahamian people, we will overcome the challenges and restore peace and prosperity to our beloved land.”
Outgoing Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham conceded defeat shortly before 10 p.m. at the FNM’s headquarters on Mackey Street. He also announced that he would not lead the party in opposition and would resign his seat in parliament, ending a more than 30-year career in frontline politics. He led the FNM to victory in 2007. And previously served as prime minister from 1992-2002.
“I shall return to private life from whence I came,” Ingraham told solemn supporters.
He said: ”The Progressive Liberal Party has won the election. I want to publicly congratulate (Christie’s) party.”
It was a short and bitterly contested campaign that led many political pundits to predict in the lead up to the election that the race was too close to call. That did not turn out to be the case.
Last night’s result represented a massive miscalculation by the FNM of its support among the electorate.
The PLP’s campaign focused on what it said were the enormous barriers to progress under the Ingraham-led government.
The FNM tried to convince the electorate it had succeeded in rebuilding trust in government. But a high crime rate, the poorly managed New Providence Road Improvement Project, the controversial sale of the Bahamas
Telecommunications Company (BTC) to Cable and Wireless and a weak economy turned out to be too much for the party to bear.
The unemployment rate has risen to nearly 15 percent, and there were a record 127 murders last year.
FNM incumbents and senior members of the Ingraham administration, including Tommy Turnquest, Desmond Bannister, Zhivargo Laing, Charles Maynard, Dion Foulkes and Byran Woodside, all lost their seats in yesterday’s general election.
Neko Grant (Central Grand Bahama), Hubert Minnis (Killarney) and Loretta Butler-Turner (Long Island) were the only former cabinet ministers to retain their seats.
Following Ingraham’s resignation, the North Abaco seat will go to a bye-election. And the FNM, which will need a leader and deputy leader, will have to rebuild its party leadership.
Branville McCartney and the Democratic National Alliance offered a promise of change, but very few voters were prepared to take a chance on the new party. However, it was clear from the unofficial results last night that the third party did erode some of the vote for the two major political contestants.
McCartney, who failed to win his constituency, said he was surprised by the fact that his party was unable to win a seat.
“I thought the results would have been much closer. I did not expect the FNM to win and I expected the DNA to do much better. We live in a democracy, the people have spoken and now we move on. It comes down to what the people want. The people wanted the PLP. Elections are over now and the people spoke."
Christie thanked his supporters for giving him another chance.
“I thank you for once again putting your faith in me as your representative and to you the members and supporters of our great party, who have fought so valiantly throughout this campaign,” he said. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great victory tonight.”
Christie said now is the time for “national healing”.
“This has been a bitterly contested election. Now that it is over it is time for national healing to begin,” he said. “We must all come together as Bahamians and work in unity and with a common purpose to take our country to the great heights that beckon us now.”