|The North Abaco test|
Published: Jun 23, 2012
If North Abaco member of Parliament Hubert Ingraham does not change his mind about retiring, we should have a by-election in that constituency this year.
It will be quite a battle for the new leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), Dr. Hubert Minnis, and the new prime minister, Perry Christie.
The results of the recent constituency election should provide hope to both sides. Ingraham won the seat by 379 votes. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) candidate Renardo Curry, however, won five of the 12 polling divisions in the constituency.
For Dr. Minnis, the issue is simple. He has to lead the effort to retain an FNM seat. For Christie, he must try to keep the election momentum alive. His party won 29 of the 38 seats being contested. PLPs are excited to again be in the seat of power after spending five years watching Ingraham govern as prime minister.
A victory for Dr. Minnis would give him more clout in his party in a difficult situation. Though the FNM has held the seat since the early 1990s when Ingraham came to the party, history indicates that it might be hard to retain such a seat after a crushing defeat, seatwise, in a general election.
In the 1997 general election Sir Lynden Pindling won the South Andros seat even though his party lost the election by a landslide margin. He retired shortly after the defeat. In the ensuing by-election the FNM picked up the seat.
Dr. Minnis will have to prove to FNMs that there is a point to them coming out to vote. This is often the challenge in by-elections. If Abaco FNMs think it doesn’t matter if they vote, and eager PLPs swarm to the polls to take “Ingraham’s seat”, the PLP would move to 30 seats in the House of Assembly.
But if Dr. Minnis and his party are able to select the “right” candidate and find the resources to mount a strong campaign, they would demonstrate to the PLP and the country that they are still forces to be reckoned with.
Ingraham said that he will retire from politics on July 19. If that does happen we will be back in election mode shortly. The people of North Abaco would then have in their hands the power to weaken a new FNM leader or a new prime minister. The eyes of the nation will be on that contest.