By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
“IF you have to bastardise what you stand for, it’s not worth it,” was FNM Deputy Chairman Dr Duane Sands response to public suggestions that the outcome of the 2017 general elections may depend on a coalition between the Free National Movement and the Democratic National Alliance.
Speaking to The Tribune on whether successfully challenging the governing Progress Liberal Party at the polls in the next election cycle would require a partnership between the two organisations, Dr Sands said: “I think that the people who have supported the Democratic National Alliance are perhaps a portion of previous members and/or supporters of the Free National Movement, that’s my view.”
“And to that extent I think we need to reach out to those individuals, find what it is that drives them, ideologically, to see whether or not given the diversity of our ideas and opinions that we support, that those ideas will come together,” he added.
In noting that the FNM is already made up of a number of third-party factions, including the Bahamas Democratic Movement and Coalition for Democratic Reform, the FNM deputy chairman said that “if it means now that there’s an amalgamation of ideas, provided that you can keep true to your ideological routes but, if you have to bastardise what you stand for, it’s not worth it”.
In the May 2012 general elections, the PLP won 29 of the 38 seats in Parliament while the FNM secured only nine though figures released by the parliamentary registration office showed the PLP received 75,806 votes while the FNM secured 65,518 votes – a difference of 10,288. The DNA, despite not securing any seats in Parliament, received 13,186 votes.
Last Tuesday Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed that since being elected to office two years ago, he is “satisfied” with the government’s achievements and his ministers performances.
While declining to give his government a grade for their accomplishments so far, Mr Christie said he was “happy” with his cabinet and the progress the government has made – despite some challenges, among them being the inability of setting firm dates for the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) and the constitutional referendum.
A few hours later, however, Opposition leader Dr Hubert Minnis – at an FNM street rally – dubbed the current government’s performance in the past two years as an “abysmal failure.”
The MP for Killarney chastised the government’s failure on crime, the economy, opening the new critical care block at the Princess Margaret Hospital, opening the newly built international airport in Abaco, opening the Children and Adolescents Facility at Sandilands, bringing a constitutional referendum to the people concerning equal rights for women under the constitution, among other things.
Dr Minnis said the PLP government has failed the people on every front and despite their claims that they would put Bahamians first if elected, “they have done the opposite.”
However, DNA leader Branville McCartney recently branded the official opposition as virtually nonexistent following recent public disagreements among party executives.
Responding to a question over whether the Free National Movement (FNM) was doing a good job in keeping the government accountable on national issues, Mr McCartney said he viewed the party as being in disarray.
“We don’t have an official opposition,” he said, “the official opposition seems to be in disarray, divided, speaking in five different tongues and they seem to be mis-stepping just as the PLP. The only opposition you have is the DNA.”
Dr Sands, in an interview with The Tribune last Thursday, noted that there was a lot of discussion about whether or not the DNA “is for real and whether they are nothing more than a spoiler organization.”
“We don’t need to get into that discussion,” he said, noting that “the question is, how does the Free National Movement strengthen its appeal to those disenchanted individuals who did not support the Free National Movement, despite the history of the Free National Movement and that’s where the conversation should be.”
“And also not only DNA supporters, but PLP supporters because they catching hell. There were a lot of people that would have supported the Progressive Liberal Party who believe now they have made a mistake,” he concluded.