2010: An exciting year in politics
The year in politics was dominated by the decisions of two politicians regarding their political futures. One chose to leave his party and resign his seat in Parliament, leading to the first by-election in 13 years. The other decided to seek a fourth term as prime minister, kicking off the general election campaign.
Since the Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)won government on May 2, 2002 there were rumors that Malcolm Adderley and then Prime Minister Perry Christie were not getting along. Sources said Adderley was upset that promises made to him were not kept. Adderley was not named a member of Christie’s Cabinet.
On January 6, days after announcing that he had left the PLP, Adderley came to the House of Assembly for the last time as an MP. He said he could no longer follow the PLP’s leader.
“The leadership of the party at its recent convention was given an almost unanimous vote of confidence by the membership,”Adderley said.”I know what it is like to be subject to that leadership. I have had it for seven and a half years. I have always expressed my deep concern about the lack of vision of the leadership and that has not changed.”
Being unable to support Christie, Adderley did the honorable thing and resigned. He also rejected the suggestion that he made the move because he was upset over not being named to the PLP Cabinet in 2002.
Christie was polite in the House on the day Adderley resigned. At a party rally in Elizabeth(Adderley’s former constituency)days later, however, Christie went on the attack.
“I was the one person who stood between Malcolm and the forces within the PLP who fought hard to deny him the re-nomination in the 2007 general election; not because they did not like him but because they honestly felt, as indeed many of the people in Elizabeth felt, that he had been a complete failure as an MP from 2002, when he was first elected, to 2007,”said Christie.
The Free National Movement(FNM)named surgeon Dr. Duane Sands as its Elizabeth candidate. Attorney Ryan Pinder, son of former PLP Malcolm Creek MP Marvin Pinder, was named the PLP Elizabeth candidate.
Both men pledged to win the by-election the first in the country since 1997.
Three small party candidates also entered the race: Cassius Stuart(Bahamas Democratic Movement), Dr. Andre Rollins(National Development Party)and Rodney Moncur(Workers Party).
After weeks of campaigning, election night(February 16)provided a surprise rather than a result.
Dr. Sands was up by one vote after all regular ballots were counted. After a marathon recount that spanned several days, Dr. Sands was up by two votes.However, his margin of victory was less than the number of protest votes cast in favor of Pinder(5), which sent the Elizabeth by-election to the Election Court for resolution.
Senior Justices Anita Allen and Jon Isaacs made it known that the case would not linger on, as the people of Elizabeth required representation in Parliament.
On March 23, after hearing the arguments of both sides, the Election Court allowed all five protest votes cast in favor of Pinder.
“It’s a humbling experience to be declared the winner,”said Pinder after the ruling.”This process was to ensure that no voter was disenfranchised.”
Dr. Sands thanked the residents of Elizabeth for their support during the campaign and by-election. He vowed to run again.
Pinder’s victory gave hope to a PLP still stunned after its 2007 general election defeat. The party was able to withstand the full weight of the FNM in government and win the Elizabeth seat.
The result also gave the FNM a reason to be optimistic. With crime still a major problem, and a down economy, the governing party only lost Elizabeth(a PLP seat since 2002)by three votes.
Branville McCartney Resigns
While the PLP and FNM were preparing for Election Court, one of themost popular FNM Cabinet members made an announcement that shocked the country. Branville McCartney resigned from Cabinet on February 28.
“The factors that motivated this run the full gamut of issues and emotions, some more compelling than others. In the forefront are my feelings of stagnation and the inability to fully utilize my political potential at this time,”said McCartney in his resignation statement.
McCartney has made it know that he wants to be a future leader of the FNM. Since stepping down he has been careful, though, not to publicly criticize Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
There were rumors that McCartney might challenge Ingraham at the FNM’s fall convention. The challenge never materialized, as the FNM decided not to have a convention. The PLP also decided not to hold a convention this year. It said it would have mini-conclaves instead.
Ingraham will run again
Only one man has ever led the FNMto victory at a general election. Since Hubert Ingraham joined the FNM in 1990 ahead of the 1992 general election he has been the party’s’delivery boy’, having won three general elections.
At the beginning of the year, Ingraham told the media that he would let the country know about his future by the end of 2010. He kept his word.
“The answer to your question is yes,”said Ingraham at a live news conference at the British Colonial Hilton in November when asked if he would run again.
If successful, Ingraham would serve as PM for the fourth time. He could hold the office for 20 years, five years short of the time Sir Linden Pindling served for as leader of the country.
Christie has already said he will run again as PLP leader.
What will happen in 2011?
Ingraham’s decision to run again kicked off the general election campaign. He hit the talk show circuitafter the announcement in November followed by Christie stating his case for reelection.
The PLP is preparing itself for the war to come. The party has named 14 candidates to represent it thus far when the general election is called.
The new year is likely to be dominated by election fever.
The close Elizabeth result indicates that the electorate is still closely divided.
The party with the best campaign strategy, most organized team and most committed leader is likely to be victorious.
For Ingraham and Christie thiselection will be about legacy. Neither man wants to be sent intoretirement having lost to the other.