New political movements prove the health of democracy in the Bahamas but won’t unseat the PLP as divided factions, Malcolm J Strachan says . . .
There’s no question that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), under the leadership of Perry Gladstone Christie, has to go.
That is the one common thread that is permeating nearly every conversation throughout the country.
Bahamians at large get visibly upset when they speak about the horrendous term in office we are experiencing under this PLP administration.
Record levels of violent crime, an economy in the tank, rampant corruption in high office, the destruction of Baha Mar, the rise of China’s influence in and over our Government, and now the outright war of words with the United States of America. It’s hard to imagine a time when things were worse.
The PLP’s record will not, and cannot, get better at this juncture. Its performance has created for the first time in nearly 20 years, a clarion call for action amongst the people. Over the last year, Bahamians from walks of life have asked themselves, at one time or the other, how can we get rid of this “wutless crew”.
A job to do
Normally this would be the job of the Official Opposition.
We have historically looked to them as the voice of opposition for all - a protector of the people in times of need. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Dr Hubert Minnis, that voice has been neutered.
This lack of leadership in Opposition has therefore created a crisis for the country. Well-meaning individuals have had to turn to other quarters to achieve their goal. Thus the emergence of the new Opposition forces.
Opposition for opposition sake
Today in the Bahamas we have the PLP, the Free National Movement, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), the United Democratic Party, the Bahamas Constitution Party and now the newly-formed People’s Movement.
If we analysis this new reality, we have five ‘opposition’ forces, with the same goal - to get rid of the PLP. The irony in all of this is that, unless these opposition forces galvanise behind one entity, all that they will be successful in doing is ensuring another victory for the PLP.
This, we have seen from history, is due in part to the way the PLP runs its campaigns. It is not afraid to do what must be done to ensure a victory. Be that buying votes, renting crowds, or worse - the party will do what it must to give itself the best chance of winning.
In addition, the PLP has a core group of supporters who will defend their party to the death. These supporters have been given jobs, contracts, appointments and more. In the lead up to the general election in 2017, the public service will once again become bloated with new hires, as the Treasury is emptied of its last pennies.
To those that have not been feathered with jobs or appointments, the PLP has its greatest weapon - nostalgia.
Tales of Sir Lynden Pindling will be told, promises of the glory days returning, a plea for us to “take our country back” once again from the oppressive forces of the UBP etc.
When lumped together, the PLP has an impressive war machine it can utilise against these divided opposition factions.
What to do now?
Which brings us to the point of our piece this week. What, in the hell are we doing as a people?
If the true task ahead is rescuing the country from the grips of the PLP then multiple parties is not the way to go.
History has once again show us that, as a young democracy, the Bahamas has not yet fully evolved beyond a two-party system. Some of the oldest democracies on this planet have yet to achieve this goal.
We should not delude ourselves into thinking that we have enough voters or political maturity to succeed in a multi-party system. All that we will be creating are spoilers who will be pulling (in the majority) from the same anti-PLP vote pool. The DNA proved this point in 2012.
Do we really want to take such a gamble in 2017 given what the PLP has ‘accomplished’ over the last four and a half years? Can you imagine what a PLP, led by Perry Christie, would do to this country with another five years?
If you believe we have a crime problem now, imagine another five years with Dr Bernard Nottage asleep at the wheel.
If you believe we have an immigration/diplomatic problem, imagine an emboldened Fred Mitchell sitting across the table.
If you believe we have an economic problem, just imagine Perry Christie. We need say no more.
So what can, and should, these opposition forces do? They have no doubt surveyed the landscape, and found the leader of the Official Opposition wanting, so they have acted.
For right or wrong, they are expressing their democratic rights. They are frustrated with the status quo and would like to see change happen, now. This change we can all agree must take place. But in the pursuit of change, there must be a better strategy than the one we see emerging.
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