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A changing political landscape

Published: Aug 15, 2013

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Significant changes in both major Bahamian political parties seem to be on the horizon.

In the opposition, a battle has clearly begun between FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner. Minnis is trying to establish himself after replacing Hubert Ingraham. The new FNM leader has been criticized as lacking charisma and not being able to fully inspire his party to follow him.

Butler-Turner has stepped forward and is leading the opposition’s attack in Parliament. By far she has been the most effective member of the FNM in the House of Assembly.

Minnis started off his tenure isolating the Hubert Ingraham faction of the party. By declaring the Ingraham era over in the wake of the North Abaco by-election, the new FNM leader made no friends with those who love the old party leader.

The FNM is marching toward a leadership race. It is unclear if Minnis will survive such a fight. If his deputy beats him her old job will be open, creating the opportunity for a ‘new’ face to step up in the party.

For the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Perry Christie keeps saying this is his last term in politics. If he is serious about leaving – and it is unclear if he is serious about that – he will retire at some point during this term. This would force a leadership race in the PLP. The winner of that contest would be prime minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

We know Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis would be in that race along with Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe. Beyond them, though, would likely be quite a few members of the Christie Cabinet who think they too have what it takes to lead the party and country. Others such as Shane Gibson, Fred Mitchell, Dr. Bernard Nottage and Jerome Fitzgerald would at least consider running for the top job.

A new PLP leader would have to consider who he or she would like to keep close and who to vanquish. The aftermath of the selection of the new party leader and prime minister might be more interesting and consequential than the actual party leadership contest. It would be unwise for a new leader to keep all Christie loyalists in the posts they are currently in. The first big change for the new chief could be in the Cabinet.

Bahamian voters may have revamped parties by the time 2017 rolls around. Each could have a new leader, deputy and party chair. If these major changes occur, we hope the new leaders bring forward new ideas to help address the many socio-economic challenges facing the modern Bahamas.


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