The writing is definitely on the wall for the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
So said two local pundits, on the heels of last week’s humiliating general election defeat suffered by incumbent Prime Minister Perry Christie and his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) at the hands of the Hubert Minnis-led Free National Movement in The Bahamas.
In what commentators have described as the heaviest defeat recorded by a governing party in The Bahamas in recent times, the PLP was only able to secure five of the 39 seats at stake, with Christie and other senior government ministers losing their seats as the PLP was booted out after serving just one term in office.
Political scientist Peter Wickham cautioned Tuesday that while the outcome was notable, “each regional election should be taken on its merit”.
Therefore, he was not prepared to make the assumption that “because there was a change in one country, there will be a change in another”.
“I think it is best to look at things on their own merit,” he stressed.
Wickham’s view was in line with that of Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler who in an interview with Barbados TODAY late last week cautioned that “The Bahamas is The Bahamas and Barbados is Barbados.
“I don’t think our country votes like that. [The] Bahamas has actually changed governments every five years since the last three or four election cycles, so that must tell you something,” Sinckler had insisted.
However, while pointing to what he called striking similarities between the ruling DLP in Barbados and the PLP in The Bahamas, political strategist Reudon Eversley argued that there were lessons for Barbadians, who he said could well relate to many of the hot button issues raised on the campaign trail in Nassau.
“Some of the issues are very similar; people were talking about a lack of accountability, they were also talking about corruption – the issues you hear in Barbados all the time . . . . Another criticism that was made of Christie was that there was not really good communication. Communication was not the best and you have the same thing in Barbados,” Eversley explained.
He also pointed out that both the PLP and DLP had taken their countries to Independence and that for years both parties were seen as the naturals for government.
However, Eversley said they had both failed to lay the groundwork for fresh, vibrant leadership to allow them to move forward.
“I think young people played a critical role in the outcome of the [Bahamas] election, which says that there is a need for a new generation of leadership to come to the fore. The DLP is not really offering that right now. You make the comparison with the Barbados Labour Party, the Barbados Labour Party has a lot of youthful candidates,” he said.
Eversley further pointed to the recent trend in Caribbean elections that saw incumbent governments in St Lucia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St Kitts/Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda being removed from office and suggested that a change wind was definitely blowing across the region.
Against this backdrop, the political strategist suggested that, “Barbadians have already made up their minds and it was just up to Prime Minister [Freundel] Stuart to call the election.
“So I anticipate there will be a similar outcome in Barbados. The Barbados Labour Party will win handsomely. I have not really studied the numbers as yet but from what I am hearing on the ground, people clearly cannot wait to see the back of this Government which they feel has not really lived up to expectations. It has not really delivered.”
Wickham agreed that the DLP Government will be under pressure to return to office, but he was not prepared to link the Bahamas election result to its eventual fate.
“I think in the case of Barbados you are dealing with a two-term Government that is beleaguered. So I think there is good reason to believe that change is also likely in Barbados, but my reason would not be because there was a change in the Bahamas,” he stressed.