Bermuda PLP 14-year reign ends with premier also losing seat

By Ivan Clifford 

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Tuesday December 18, 2012 – Premier Paula Cox lost her seat as the opposition One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) ended 14 years of Progressive Labour Party (PLP) rule when it won Monday’s general election by two seats in a nail-biting finish, according to preliminary results released here on Tuesday.

The OBA overturned a huge deficit to win by 19 seats to 17 in the 36-seat House of Assembly.

OBA leader Craig Cannonier, a relative political newcomer who is expected to be sworn in later as the  new premier, said “Bermuda has seen a new day. It’s a new Bermuda and a new day in politics.”

Cox, who was also Finance Minister, conceded defeat, saying “the people have spoken”.

OBA candidate Glen Smith, who defeated Cox, said he was not surprised at the victory.

“No I worked hard for it anything in life you work for normally comes through. I have to thank my constituents because without them I wouldn’t be standing here talking about a victory”

The PLP, which was seeking a fourth consecutive term in office, held 24 seats to the OBA’s10 in the last parliament, but the OBA confirmed opinion polls, which gave it a clear lead, by polling 52 per cent of the popular vote to the PLP’s 47 per cent. A total of 43,767 voters were registered to vote in Monday’s election. Opinion polls suggested turnout could reach 90 per cent.

None of the record 15 independent candidates, including former United Bermuda Party (UBP) leader Kim Swan, won a seat in the election.

OBA’s Nandi Davis secured victory for the party after she won the St George’s West seat by four votes, when the results were announced early Tuesday morning.

“It was so close. I am shocked. I worked hard in my constituency. I am excited. I can’t believe it. No recount. Everything was good,” she said.

Apart from Cox, other notable casualties of the election were Education Minister Dame Jennifer Smith, who steered the PLP to its first election victory in 1998, and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Patrice Minors.

Smith lost to St George’s Mayor Kenneth Bascome while former UBP leader Michael Dunkley, now the OBA’s deputy leader, turned the tables on Minors who beat him at the last election.

The Chamber of Commerce said it was looking forward to “quickly getting down to business with the Premier and his new cabinet as we seek to collectively address the many tough challenges which lie ahead as we seek to return to a more positive economy.”

Chief among the issues the Chamber would like to see addressed in the coming months is the formation of an Economic Advisory Board which would advise the Minister of Finance on tactical and strategic economic planning.

Bermuda, which is in recession, has a 10 per cent unemployment rate while the national debt has ballooned to US$1.4 billion.

“The economy is a top priority for the Chamber and we intend to make an official application to government in short order requesting the formation of a statutory Economics Advisory Board with members drawn from the various representative business groups, business leaders and other stakeholders,” said Chamber president Ronnie Viera.

“Previously, these stakeholder groups have not been able to participate in macro-economic planning, which is unfortunate given that it is these same stakeholders who have suffered most significantly over the past three years of recession.

“We believe that through close collaboration the government will benefit greatly from having input and knowledge transfer from industry experts,” the private sector group said. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)