HAMILTON – Bermudians will go to the polls on July 18, Premier Michael Dunkley announced yesterday, a day before his government was to face a vote of no confidence in Parliament.
And while the opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) conceded that the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) administration had avoided that vote, it said it would not be able to sidestep the one that is delivered by the electorate.
At a press conference called yesterday, Dunkley said he had met with the Governor who accepted his request to dissolve Parliament for the general election.
But he refused to say whether the no confidence vote motion, which was to be moved by Opposition Leader David Burt today, had influenced his decision to ring the election bell.
“They’ll be people who will have their opinions on it. I always had five periods that I thought when election was appropriate and this was one of this. I think the people will decide and we don’t need to have rancour in the House of Assembly about the direction that Bermuda is going . . . . It’s time for the people to decide and the politicians to listen,” he said in response to a question from the media after he announced the election date.
In a prepared statement at the start of the press conference, Dunkley said Bermuda had made significant strides since the election of December 2012 and government worked hard to turn around a dire situation. However, he charged that progress was threatened by “the politics of destabilization”.
“It is deeply disappointing, and it is why we are here this evening. This election then will be about affirming Bermuda’s commitment to continuing the recovery, and the national effort needed to keep it going. All of us as Bermudians will have the opportunity to decide whether to keep moving forward on the path that’s restoring jobs, opportunity and growth or risk stepping off the path for something vague and untested,” Dunkley, flanked by OBA colleagues, told the country.
“In setting the election date, it is our commitment – if you see fit to give us a mandate – to return to the House of Assembly on July 20, or as soon as practicable, to carry out important items already on our agenda, such as absentee balloting, fixed term elections, the Boundaries Commission report and roadside testing to name a few,” he added.
The OBA won 19 seats to the PLP’s 17 in the last general elections, but the two parties ended up with the same number of seats after two OBA MPs left the party to sit in Parliament as Independent MPs.
In a statement issued this morning, the PLP said Dunkley had “clearly” called the election to “avoid the results” of the Opposition’s no confidence motion.
“But he cannot avoid the verdict of no confidence that will be delivered at the ballot box on July 18. The minority OBA government had lost their mandate to govern and the PLP welcomes the forthcoming general election so that the people of the country the OBA has worked so hard to divide can now decide their future,” it added.
The PLP charged that Bermuda has suffered for four years under the OBA and cannot “withstand another term of their divisive policies and arrogant leadership”.