By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. May 10, 2017: Voters in the Caribbean island nation of The Bahamas will go to the polls today to elect a new government for the next five years. Here are 8 things you should know about this election:
1: The country’s current Prime Minister Perry Christie and the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is facing off against the main opposition, the Free National Movement (FNM), which had been in power before Christie’s government took over in 2012, and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), to see who will be handed the reins for the next five years.
2: Perry’s government has been dealing with a high crime rates, allegations of corruption; double-digit unemployment; scandal-ridden cabinet ministers; the falling apart of the mega Baha Mar resort deal, which has yet to open and recently, the PR nightmare following the international scandal of the Fyre Festival.
3: There are just 180,000 registered voters out of 400,000 residents in the small chain of islands. Thirty-nine seats in the House of Assembly are up for grabs in the election. The party that wins the majority of the seats forms the government.
4: There is concern over voter fraud in this election but observers are already on the ground. The Organization of American States, the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom) regional grouping and the Commonwealth Observer Group will all monitor the vote for signs of problems today, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. This is the second time that observer teams were invited to The Bahamas for the general elections, with the first being the May 8, 2012 General Election.
5: Election pundits will be watching closely to see whether the Bahamas will follow the trend that’s occurred at polls in the English-speaking Caribbean recently. In the last two years, voters have ousted the incumbents in Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Guyana, Montserrat and nearby Turks and Caicos.
6: Many have lamented the descent of the campaign this season into “gutter politics. Controversy was rife in the 2017 election campaign when Prime Minister Christie made the comment “Listen, its goin’ so good now, God can’t stop me now” at his opening rally on the island of Exuma, which caused a furious backlash.
7: The PLP made a comeback win in 2012 by grabbing 29 of the 38 seats in the House of Assembly over the Free National Movement (FNM), which had beaten them in the 2007 general elections amid a scandal involving the residency status of model and reality television star Anna Nicole Smith and allegations that the PLP’s then-immigration minister had fast-tracked her application to live in the islands.
8: Even though the Prime Minister is elected with the winning Party, he is appointed by the Governor General. In the Senate 16 members are appointed by the governor-general to serve 5-year terms. In the House of Assembly 40 members are elected by direct popular vote to serve 5-year terms.