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Political Landscape in The Bahamas in 2023 – Part 1

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – I have watched keenly the events that have transpired within our politics over the past two years during my self-imposed sabbatical from frontline politics.



NASSAU, BAHAMAS – I have watched keenly the events that have transpired within our politics over the past two years during my self-imposed sabbatical from frontline politics. It is crystal clear to me that the more things change the more they remain the same as it relates to the political landscape within The Bahamas. It is against this backdrop that I have chosen to share my thoughts and views on political leadership and governance within our country.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is on a roll having just won the West Grand Bahama and Bimini by-election convincingly. In a by-election for a seat that has been a PLP stronghold and with the weight of the Brave Davis-led administration supported by the resources of the Public Treasury, it comes as no surprise that the governing party as is often said in tennis, was able to hold serve.

This recent victory comes on the heels of the Party’s national convention. Regardless of the fact that the race for National Chairman of the PLP was fierce, controversial and divisive, the PLP Leader’s choice for Chairman prevailed in the party’s elections. It is noteworthy that 43% of PLP delegates did not support the PLP Leader’s candidate. The implications of nearly half of all PLPs in convention going against the PLP Leader’s directive is yet to be seen. 

Prior to the convention, the PLP-led administration prorogued the House and effectively wiped its legislative agenda clean. While some questioned the reasoning behind this move, many Bahamians understood that the government was on the ropes with controversies and challenges posed by the actions of its MPs. The reshuffling of the Cabinet was enough evidence that the government was looking to reset for a fresh start to erase the memories of its turbulent two years in office. The reality is that the government pressed the reset button for the same reason that we all press the reset button on an electronic device: it was not working out as expected. 

The series of victories for the PLP commenced on September 16, 2021 when a snap election was called during a global pandemic the likes of which had not been seen in about a century. Economies around the world were on their knees as governments took drastic measures to preserve lives and livelihoods. Luckily for the PLP, the economy had began to open and economic recovery was on the horizon. Bahamians like citizens of other countries across the globe had grown weary of the lockdowns and restrictions. The promise of a New Day was just too attractive to ignore even though this did not prevent us from having the lowest voter turnout in recent memory of 65%. The PLP got the majority of cast votes but a minority of registered voters’ endorsement; the lowest percentage of registered voters supporting a governing party since independence. 35% of registered voters stayed home or just did not vote. Only a mere 34% of registered voters voted for the PLP.  The voter turnout during the recent by-election after just over two years of the Davis administration was even worse at 62%.

For all these victories, the PLP should be congratulated if we subscribe to the popular saying that a win is a win. However, I submit that any victory that does not translate into a win for the Bahamian people is not a win. The questions must be asked: Have the Bahamian people been winning? Are Bahamians better off today than they were in a pre-pandemic Bahamas? It is simply unfair and flawed to compare the state of affairs during a period plagued by an extraordinary once-in-a-century event with the current state of affairs.

I conclude this part of my series with the following observations and questions. The Bahamian people are suffering with high electricity bills contributed to by the actions and inactions of the current administration. Bahamians have seen their electricity bills increase so quickly and so high to levels not seen for years. Gas prices are high and motorists are struggling on a daily basis. Our people are faced with the high cost of living with many lamenting how they pay so much for so little groceries, medicines and other necessities. The government has thrown its hands in the air while blaming global inflation when it can take immediate actions to lighten the burden by reducing taxes paid on goods and services. Is this current administration prepared to admit that it made life more difficult for the average Bahamian by putting VAT on breadbasket items? Is the current administration prepared to confront the accusations of its disregard of procurement legislation? Will they address the allegations of a lack of transparency, unethical behavior and questionable actions of its members? 

Another matter that is not receiving adequate attention but needs to be addressed is, the government’s plan to restore the Bahamas’ credit rating to investment grade from the current junk bond status. There are much more observations on the current political landscape, but space is limited and so I will save the rest for subsequent parts of this series.

Arinthia S. Komolafe