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Our mature two-party political system serves us well

There is an entitlement mindset amongst the elite of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). The organization governed The Bahamas for 35 years since 1967. It led the country for 25 consecutive years from 1967 to 1992.

When Hubert Ingraham and the Free National Movement (FNM) defeated the PLP the first time (1992), some in the party thought the win a fluke. Ingraham was branded the interim leader. He couldn’t speak well. He didn’t look the part of prime minister. He wouldn’t last.

He did, however, beating the PLP even worse in 1997.

In 1992, though not liking what had transpired, the PLP fell into opposition. It had an ailing and older leader, Sir Lynden Pindling, but did its best to hold the new government to account.

On losing in 1997, and battling cancer, Sir Lynden retired and the party choose Perry Christie as leader. He won in 2002.

Then Ingraham returned (2007), followed by Christie (2012). Dr. Hubert Minnis, our current leader, is the first prime minister to not have sat in a PLP Cabinet.

Throughout these years we have had free and fair elections. We have had oppositions that accepted defeat. There was freedom of speech, though Pindling’s PLP kept a state monopoly on broadcasting.

There are other successes, too. The Bahamas has one of the most vibrant tourism economies in the region; though diminished from its zenith, there is a financial services sector; we have reasonably modern roads; there’s potable water; electricity; public schools; and a social welfare system to help those most in need.

Not all of these things are perfect. The public education system, for example, is in need of reform, as is the state electricity provider. But for a developing country we at least have the structures of a modern state. It is up to us to evolve and improve our institutions to advance further. PLP and FNM administrations contributed to growing The Bahamas to where it is.

The people are at a stage now, after voting for Pindling in six straight elections, where they happily kick out the ruling party when they are not satisfied. By the next election it would be 25 years since a party was returned to office. Our democracy is working.

For it to advance, more intelligent, interested Bahamians must get involved with the parties. Good people, smart and creative people, could only be MPs, Cabinet ministers or prime ministers if they offer themselves for service. If they don’t, and the mediocre do, we’d have mediocre leaders administering our affairs.

The capable should not just complain from the sidelines. Politics is a noble field. It allows entrants to directly chart the direction of a country unlike any other profession.

A culture of complaining has emerged in The Bahamas. To some nothing is right. That’s absurd, of course. When compared to other developing countries, The Bahamas measures well. And we are a young country – just 45 years old.

A lot of our success and development could be attributed to having a healthy two-party democratic system. In developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia, places where regime changes have come through war, and where dictators have ruled and ruined nations, conditions are much, much worse than in our commonwealth.

Reject the views of those who always denigrate The Bahamas. Much has been accomplished since majority rule in 1967.

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