Bermudian general election, 2007

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The 2007 Bermudan general election was held in Bermuda on 18 December 2007. The campaign was the longest in the history of Bermuda and was hard fought between the two political parties. The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) won a third term in power with 22 seats, as against 14 for the opposition United Bermuda Party (UBP).

Background[edit]

Bermuda gained internal self government with the introduction of a constitution in 1968 and for the first 30 years afterwards the United Bermuda Party was in power. Their domination was broken by defeat in the 1998 election leading to the Progressive Labour Party coming to power for the first time. The last election in 2003 saw the Progressive Labour Party remain in power, winning 22 seats compared to 14 seats for the United Bermuda Party.[1]

Bermuda remains a British overseas territory; independence was rejected in a referendum in 1995. However, in 2004 the then Premier of Bermuda, called for a debate on independence to take place.[2]

Ewart Brown became Premier in October 2006 after defeating the incumbent, William Alexander Scott, in a contest for the leadership of the Progressive Labour Party,[2] while in March 2007 Michael Dunkley became leader of the opposition United Bermuda Party after the previous leader Wayne Furbert was ousted.[3]

Campaign[edit]

At the beginning of November 2007 the Premier, Ewart Brown, announced that the election would be held on 18 December.[4] Both main parties put up 36 candidates and there were 2 independent candidates. Altogether 42,337 people were registered to vote with each constituency having about 1,100 voters.[1][5] An opinion poll in the summer had put the United Bermuda Party on 40%, the Progressive Labour Party on 34% and 26% undecided. Analysts saw 7 of the 36 seats as likely to be close.[4]

The governing Progressive Labour Party campaigned on the basis of their record where they said they had increased tourism and attracted development to Bermuda.[5] They pledged that they would introduce free day care, bus and ferry transportation if they were re-elected.[6] With Bermuda having a population that was 60% of African descent, the Progressive Labour Party said that votes for the United Bermuda Party were a vote for white people.[7] They used the example of two black people who had left the United Bermuda Party earlier in the year after saying that the white elite was still in control of the party.[4]

The election was seen as being partly contested on the performance of Premier Brown. The opposition described him a polarizing figure and accused him of being involved in corruption.[5][8] A police dossier had alleged there was corruption in the public housing corporation but prosecutors said they could find any evidence of illegality.[6] The Progressive Labour Party however described their leader as "the man who gets things done".[5]

The United Bermuda Party criticised the Progressive Labour Party for having failed create enough affordable housing and for their plans for enforcing racial equality in the workplace.[6][8] A former United Bermuda Party premier said that the Progressive Labour Parties plan to fine companies if they did not promote black people to senior posts could drive away many expatriates and companies from Bermuda.[7] The United Bermuda Party said that they would give Bermuda citizenship to everyone who had lived in Bermuda for more than 20 years if they elected. However the Progressive Labour Party said that was a mistake which could lead to 8,000 more Bermudians.[9][10]

Also at issue in the election was both party's policies over independence for Bermuda. Premier Brown was in favour of independence but his party said that this was just a long term goal and that they would not use the election as the basis for a push for independence. The United Bermuda Party said that they would hold a referendum if they won the election and said that Bermuda should not become independent unless there was clear support in a referendum. An opinion poll in 2007 had shown that around two-thirds of Bermudians were opposed to independence.[5]

The campaign at six weeks was the longest ever in Bermuda and was seen as being very bitter. Polls showed the election was tight with analysts saying that they expected the result to be close. During the campaign there was an incident when someone attempted to mail a bullet to the Premier, Ewart Brown, but it was intercepted by a postal worker, which led both parties to try to calm the campaign down.[1][11]

Results[edit]

The results of the election saw no change from the 2003 election with the Progressive Labour Party still winning 22 seats and the United Bermuda Party 14 seats.[6] The leader of the United Bermuda Party, Michael Dunkley, failed to win election in Smith's North losing by 444 votes to 536.[11] He had given up his safe seat of Devonshire East to try to overturn the United Bermuda Party's deficit by winning a marginal seat.[1][12][13]

e • d Summary of the 18 December 2007 House of Assembly of Bermuda election results
Parties Candidates Votes % Seats
Progressive Labour Party 36 16,800 52.45% 22
United Bermuda Party 36 15,161 47.34% 14
Independents 2 67 0.2% 0
Total (turnout %) 74 32,028 100.0% 36
Source: Parliamentary Registry

Note on spelling[edit]

The correct spelling for the adjectival form of Bermuda is "Bermudian", with an 'i', not the spelling often used in other countries, and in some spell-checking databases, of Bermudan without the 'i'. See for example the Bermudian newspapers The Royal Gazette [1], Bermuda Sun [2], or Bernews.com [3].

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Close finish expected in Bermuda polls". Jamaica Gleaner. 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Regions and territories: Bermuda". BBC Online. 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  3. ^ "Michael Dunkley to lead the UBP". Bermuda Sun. 2007-03-30. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  4. ^ a b c "General election will be held on Tuesday, December 18". Bermuda Sun. 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Bermuda gears up for general election". International Herald Tribune. 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Bermuda's ruling party wins election focused on corruption, racial resentment". International Herald Tribune. 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  7. ^ a b Hall, Tim (2007-12-18). "Bermuda poll 'is a test of welcome'". The Daily Telegraph. p. 17. 
  8. ^ a b "Rich island of Bermuda votes in general election". International Herald Tribune. 2007-12-18. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  9. ^ "Election pledge causes row in Bermuda". Radiojamaica.com. 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  10. ^ "UBP to PLP: Don't twist our words on long term residents". The Royal Gazette. 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  11. ^ a b "PLP wins the election". Bermuda Sun. 2007-12-18. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  12. ^ "Britain's oldest colony Bermuda returns ruling party to power for third term". Daily Mail. 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  13. ^ "UBP counts the cost of heavy defeat". Bermuda Sun. 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2009-03-15.