FORMER Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis will get to stay as the leader of the FNM – for now.
Dr Minnis will keep his role as party leader, and leader of the Opposition, until a new leader is chosen at convention in November, according to party chairman Carl Culmer.
Dr Minnis also intends to retain his Killarney seat and has no plans to quit the House of Assembly.
Last night’s meeting was described as “spirited” with some strong words following the FNM’s worst election defeat.
Some of those strong words came from former Bain and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson, who said that “the FNM and our leadership, the Prime Minister, was not in tune with the Bahamian people” – a Bahamian people which also chose to elect the PLP candidate and not Mr Robinson in his constituency, it should be noted.
It would be easy to hang all the blame on Dr Minnis, but a government is run under a doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility. If people thought Dr Minnis was on the wrong path, they should not have remained as part of a Cabinet taking that path.
Absolutely, part of the election result was a reaction by voters against Dr Minnis and his style of leadership, but it was also a rejection of those who were part of his government.
Where Mr Robinson is right, however, is when he says that the party lacks succession planning. It should not, for example, take until November for a convention to be held after an election defeat.
It should not be left to a lame duck leader to be the one to hold a new government to account in Parliament.
Mr Culmer has assured us that Dr Minnis will not offer himself for leadership, and for the sake of the FNM’s future, that should be a promise that must be kept.
The public loudly and clearly said no to Dr Minnis and his platform, and it must be a new leader that will take the FNM forward.
The sooner that process can be completed, the better it will be for the FNM – and the better it will be for the country to have an Opposition with a direction.
FIVE women. That’s how many women are now in the Cabinet under new Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis.
That it represents progress from the single woman who held a post in Cabinet under Mr Davis’ predecessor, Dr Hubert Minnis, is undeniable. That it is not enough progress remains the issue.
Only seven women were elected last week, out of a total of 39 seats, all of them for the PLP. The FNM Opposition now has not a single woman in Parliament.
Part of that of course comes down to voters, who they choose to represent them, but that does require enough women being offered the chance to run in winnable seats by the major parties. It starts with how many women are chosen, and that goes back to the selection process and who is doing the choosing.
As Alicia Wallace pointed out in her column this week, 18 percent of Parliament are now women – a rise from 13 percent in 2017, but some way short of the 30 percent target set by regional and international groups, and short too of the 20 percent in 2002.
So we’re not even falling short of international goals, we’re falling short of where we’ve already been.
Back in June, Mr Davis said that the PLP’s slate would be composed of 30 to 40 percent women candidates. That should have seen between 11 and 15 women as candidates. That was not the case.
At the time, he said: “We are not going to run them because they are female and do that gender a disfavour just to run someone because they are female. We want to have candidates who are good and those who are willing to serve and willing to do what is necessary to uplift the Bahamian people in a manner and in accordance to our philosophies.”
Over at the FNM, Dr Minnis in August said that “we especially need more women to run for the House of Assembly and to sit in the Cabinet of The Bahamas”.
Not so urgent a matter, it would seem, with the party selecting only seven women as candidates, the same number as the PLP.
So have we really seen progress? In pure numbers, a little. But where we need to see progress is in the process of selecting candidates to actually give women opportunities.
That is when real progress can have a chance.