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PLP seats ‘decimated’

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie said yesterday the boundary cuts currently being proposed are a clear case of gerrymandering, designed to distort traditional PLP voting patterns and prop up unpopular Free National Movement members of Parliament.

Christie accused Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham of decimating key PLP inner-city strongholds.

“We supported staying as is.  We supported remaining at 41 seats,” he told The Nassau Guardian.

“We arrived at that after a lot of deliberation and we thought that was the sensible thing to do.

“He (the prime minister) has reduced it to 38 seats.

“We were opposed to reducing it to 38 seats because we feel at the end of the day whatever expense you think you have saved will not be saved, because of what has to now happen to get those voters all prepared to vote along the different lines that are there.”

The proposal calls for the number of seats in the House of Assembly to be reduced from 41 to 38.  Two seats are expected to be cut in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama.

“This was by design a major political decision by the prime minister to draw a map for New Providence that from the outset was intended to be a political map, where you would disregard traditional connections in areas like Englerston and St. Cecelia and break them up,” Christie said.

“In this instance, he (the prime minister) decided to decimate St. Cecelia by giving one polling division to Bain Town, three polling divisions to Farm Road, and seven polling divisions to Englerston.”

Christie said Ingraham is attempting to put as many PLP voters as possible in Farm Road, Bain Town, St. Cecelia and Englerston combined.

“If he is looking for an average of 4,500 voters, then I think they have underestimated the number of voters who will move to be registered in the coming weeks, if not months, before the general election,” he said.

“As a result of that, we are going to find some very heavy inner-city constituencies and I think it’s nothing but pure, pure politics.”

Christie said while there is a Boundaries Commission, it is really just going through the motions as the boundaries had already been drawn before the commission was even appointed.

“We really need to move beyond the pretense that exists now because it is so serous,” he said.

Christie said no matter what happens, he is working with “supreme confidence” that people will vote in accordance with the views they hold about the government’s performance.

“However, the lines are drawn, the verdict will come from the people,” the PLP leader said.

“…And that verdict, I am absolutely convinced, will be in favor of the PLP.”

Asked if he supports the proposal for 38 seats, Christie said, “I do not support [an even number] of seats.  The last election showed there were maybe five or six seats that were won by fewer than 60 votes, and that it is possible when you have an even number of seats [there could be a tie].

“I prefer an uneven number so as to always ensure a majority.”

Christie said while the PLP wanted the number of seats to remain at 41, “I will certainly go out of my way to ensure that we win those seats as they are now drawn.”

He also said it is time for the establishment of a truly independent Boundaries Commission.

“I had the opportunity to put one in and didn’t, but there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that our democracy has matured to the point where it is a major contradiction to have someone sit down in a room by themselves and draw a plan that impacts the future of a country, and not have that done in a transparent way.

“…There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that we have passed the time when it ought to have happened.  Because of gamesmanship, [political leaders are] able to take advantage of what is really a glaring failure on the part of our democracy where [they] in a very candid way take advantage of this opportunity and this discretion to draft a map that they could just cherry pick and change things around.”

In three of the last four general elections, the party in power that cut the boundaries lost (1992, 2002 and 2007).

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