Major upset in Bahamas elections
NASSAU, The Bahamas, May 4, 2007 - For the first time in history Bahamians spurned a government giving it only one term in office, bringing back the old guard.
The Free National Movement of Prime Minister-elect Hubert Ingraham has rebounded after a dramatic defeat in 2002 to capture 24 of the 41 seats in the House of Assembly in Wednesday's election. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) of outgoing prime minister Perry Christie had the number of their seats slashed from 29 to 17.
Christie on the other hand campaigned on a prosperity record highlighting US$20 billion in new foreign investment and resort projects since he took office.
But Ingraham used that against his former law partner riding a wave of public sentiment that he was selling off the birth-right of Bahamians to foreigners. He argued and the public has agreed that land in the 700 islands of The Bahamas should be leased rather than sold as he charged that Christie has been doing and the voters agreed.
Ingraham also capitalised on the scandals rocking the Christie Administration including the resignation of the immigration minister, Shane Gibson, after photos with him embracing the late Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith were published in a newspaper. He was later accused of fast-tracking Anna Nicole Smith's residency application - an application based on claims that might not be accurate. Gibson has denied any wrongdoing. The voters believed him and he retained his seat.
Ingraham said the entire governance of the Christie Administration was based on a matter of trust - a trust which has been let down.
As seat after seat of the ruling party was falling Wednesday during the ballot count a tsunami of red-clad supporters with torches (the symbol of the FNM) flooded FNM's headquarters celebrating victory.
"We will devote all of our energies to the continued development of our nation in every respect - economic, political, social and cultural," Ingraham told his supporters.
"I should wish to express our thanks to those who have so convincingly reposed their trust in our party, and to those who worked so hard in this grueling campaign. I should also like to salute our opponents and say that I look forward to their continued participation in our democratic process," he told the people.
In a statement issued by the out-going PLP, Christie said that he personally called Ingraham to offer his congratulations and to assure him of his co-operation for the continued progress of the country.
"I thank the Bahamian people for allowing me to serve as prime minister for the past five years. I also thank the people of the Farm Road and Centreville constituency for electing me to represent them in the House of Assembly once again."
The FNM has traditionally been associated with the White colonial class while the PLP was seen as the party of the Black masses.