The PM at 70
Published: Aug 21, 2013
Prime Minister Perry Christie turns 70 today. We wish him a happy birthday.
Christie has had an extraordinary political life. He has been a member of Parliament from 1977, and was a senator before that; he has been leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) since 1997; he has been leader of the opposition twice and has served in numerous Cabinet posts; and, he has been elected prime minister on two occasions.
After defeating a Free National Movement (FNM) led by Hubert Ingraham for the second time at the 2012 general election, Christie now sits in Parliament and in Cabinet with no political equal.
The prime minister’s greatest attribute may by resilience. When Christie fell out of favor with the PLP after being fired from Cabinet in 1984, he survived the 1987 general election, defeating the PLP’s candidate. He was then able to withstand three challenges from Dr. Bernard Nottage for the leadership of the party over the years, crushing him the last time and ending any question over his rule of the PLP.
In the 2007 general election campaign, Christie’s good friend Hubert Ingraham unleashed a vicious assault on him questioning his strength and ability to lead. That assault harmed Christie and its effects linger to this day. Some still regard the PLP leader as weak despite the fact that he has led his party to two governments.
Through all of the battles, internal and external, Christie has fully claimed the PLP as his party. He will lead it until he does not feel like leading it anymore. None of the ambitious men at his feet have the power to force him out.
With that type of political power, Christie should think long and hard about how he will use the remainder of this term in office. He has a chance to create a legacy in governance if he makes the right bold moves.
Efforts such as reform of the energy sector are where Christie can set himself apart. All right-thinking Bahamians support a sensible reworking of our energy sector. If a transparent process is undertaken and a group or groups with Bahamian participants are selected, who can significantly bring down the cost of power, Christie will be a champion to his people.
Similarly, Bahamians want to see bold moves with the shantytown problem and our dysfunctional education system. They also want to see more substantive reform of our public service. Empowered politicians are required to lead landmark change. Christie is at a place in his political career where he can do things Ingraham and Sir Lynden Pindling did not do.
Few understand the burden of holding the highest elected office in a country. Truthfully, Ingraham is the only one in The Bahamas who can empathize with the pressures of this type of power. Friends, colleagues, relatives and supporters always want something. And they get angry and harassing when they don’t get it. The public, opposition and media criticize you for everything – things you sometimes know nothing of. Nonetheless, you serve. While we all get mad at the PM from time to time, we should commend men like him, Ingraham and Sir Lynden for stepping forward to serve. Too many just complain and never do anything to give back to the community.
Whether you like Christie or not, he has given four decades in the frontline to The Bahamas. We hope he enjoys his 70th with his beautiful wife and children.