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Hubert Minnis must prepare for 2017

Published: Aug 27, 2013

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Dear Editor,

Prime Minister Perry Christie has said that FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis would pay the “political price” for the comments he made concerning Peter Nygard and the PLP.

I take this veiled political threat or warning to mean that Minnis would not be a member of Parliament on the morning following the 2017 general election.

As prime minister, Christie would do everything in his power to ensure the Free National Movement leader would be on the outside looking in come 2017, based on his eerie pronouncement.

Under the Westminster system, the post of prime minister is akin to a dictatorship. He can manipulate the electoral process and make it exceedingly difficult for Minnis to be reelected in 2017, if he has the mind to do so.

Based on his facial expression during the NB12 news interview, the FNM and Minnis had better not take Christie lightly.

In 2007, the then Christie administration appointed the Boundaries Commission at the eleventh hour. The Boundaries Report was completed in April of that year, despite the election being held a mere month later.

Clearly, the Parliamentary Registration Department had very little time to complete its work due to the tardiness of the then government.

It was in 2007 that the new name Killarney was created. There were 3,476 registered voters in Killarney that year. In 2012, there were 5,031 registered voters. The period between 2007 and 2012 witnessed an increase of 1,555 voters after the realignment of the boundaries and the increase of the voting population.

In 2012, Minnis gained 2,434 votes and bested his Progressive Liberal Party opponent, Jerome Gomez, by 792 votes. Gomez received 1,642 votes.

Whereas 20 FNM candidates failed to win their respective races in 2012 on New Providence, only Minnis, Hubert Chipman (St. Anne's) and Richard Lightbourn (Montagu) were successful. The FNM leader is currently in his sophomore term. The remaining two are rookie Parliamentarians.

Despite the enormous tidal wave of opposition that swept the incumbent New Providence FNM MPs out of office, Minnis was able to win his seat because of his outstanding representation of Killarney.

If Christie intends for Minnis to “pay the political price”, it will not be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. But it can be done.

Christie could wait until the eleventh hour to appoint the Boundaries Commission — as he did in 2007 — and recommend that Killarney either be drastically realigned by adding many polling divisions which are stacked with PLP supporters, or he could recommend that the constituency be dropped altogether.

Minnis would then be in a precarious predicament if any of the foregoing were to happen. In the face of an imminent election he would have to quickly find another area to run in. And not only that, he would have to spend valuable time campaigning in that area in order to win over the voters who would obviously not be familiar with him as a member of Parliament.

If Christie left Killarney alone, Minnis could spend valuable time campaigning nationally with his FNM candidates, many of whom would no doubt need his presence at their respective constituency rallies in order to get his endorsement in the eyes of thousands of voters.

While Christie might be a typical, run-of-the-mill prime minister, he is nonetheless a very shrewd politician who understands the implications of the above scenarios and the art of tit-for-tat, I think.

Minnis and the FNM must put in place a contingency plan in order to stymie any plans Christie might be entertaining in his political mind.

Minnis cannot afford to lose in 2017. It would be a major setback in his political career and would weaken his grip on the leadership post of the FNM.

One could also entertain the possibility of the FNM winning the election while its leader fails to win his seat. In that case Minnis would not be eligible to become prime minister.

Politics is a game of chess. Minnis should and must be prepared to run in a safe area in 2017, in the event Killarney is eliminated or amalgamated to a PLP stronghold.

Knowing how much Nassau people love the PLP, the FNM leader cannot afford to take any chances. Failure to do so might cause him to wind up like former FNM leaders Tommy Turnquest and Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield. Both lost their seats, even though they were leaders of the official opposition.

— Kevin Evans

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