Monday, Sep 23, 2019
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Succession planning in politics

Dear Editor,

Sometime ago, Bishop Simeon Hall released a statement in which he pointed to a need for the major political parties in The Bahamas to begin a process of succession planning.

The comments caused me to undertake a little bit of research on the subject. However, I soon became distracted and discontinued the effort.

I resumed my research sometime after the conventions of both the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM). At the time both parties placed significant emphasis on the need for the involvement of youth, with special focus on a commitment to the youth of the nation. I once again became distracted and discontinued my research.

Recent comments by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham regarding the FNM’s intention to seek to offer fresh, new, young faces among its group of candidates for the upcoming general election caused me to resume the effort I had twice put aside. I wanted to determine whether what the prime minister said was mere political expediency or whether it was supported by his and his party’s previous actions.

My intention when I initially started my effort several years ago was for the research to have a three-fold focus.

The initial focus would be on identifying former Young Liberals, the youth arm of the PLP, and former Torchbearers, the youth arm of the FNM, who are sitting members of Parliament or who may have previously been elected to Parliament.

Secondly, the focus would be expanded to identify members of both political youth arms who had previously received the nomination of their party to contest an election.

Finally, I thought to look to identify members of Parliament from both political parties who may have been born subsequent to the PLP attaining a majority of the seats in the House of Assembly, an era some refer to as “majority rule”. I detest this terminology as I find it divisive. But that’s another topic for another day.

My political succession planning research was aborted without me ever getting beyond first base. I discovered that there are presently four elected members of Parliament — Tommy Turnquest, Carl Bethel, Zhivargo Laing and Kwasi Thompson — who started out in the youth arm of the Free National Movement, the Torchbearers. Additionally Minister of Labor Senator Dion Foulkes, a former Torchbearer, is a former elected FNM MP.

However, I was unable to identify a single present or former member of the Progressive Liberal Party’s youth arm elected to Parliament on a PLP ticket. I was successful in identifying a former Young Liberal who had been elected to serve in Parliament — David Wallace, who was elected to Parliament on an FNM ticket.

In my view my research, though limited in scope, was conclusive. The recent pronouncements by Prime Minister Ingraham regarding the need for the FNM to introduce fresh, new, young faces among the FNM’s slate of candidates was clearly not mere political rhetoric but historical fact.

Failure on the part of any organization to renew, to regenerate itself will surely lead to its decay. The limited research outlined above clearly portrays the PLP as an organization in decay while the FNM is portrayed as an organization in ascendency.

 

— Michael R. Moss

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