Bahamas Democratic Movement
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Party formation of Bahamas Democratic Movement
The party was formed in late 1998 in Nassau, Bahamas and was officially launched in February 2000. The party's founders included: Cassius Stuart, Howard R. Johnson, Dario Roberts, George Carey,[Kaylisha Fergason]] and a number of then-students of the College of the Bahamas. The party was formed due to a strongly held belief among the founding group that Caribbean governments generally, and successive Bahamian governments specifically, failed to incorporate young persons (under the age of 30) in the decision-making processes of government at any level. This particular view stemmed from the fact that at that time over 60% of the country's population was under the age of 30 years. Stuart and his followers believed that it was incumbent upon the government to have young persons play a more significant role in the governance of the country as opposed to merely "using them for their votes" in the period leading up to general elections. Immediately following victory at the polls however, Stuart and his followers contended that young persons were given no official governmental roles with any real political power. The current leader of the BDM is Cassius Stuart. Mr. Omar Smith serves as Deputy Leader of the party.
Within a year of the party's formation, Johnson, Carey, Roberts and others left the BDM citing methodological differences with Stuart as the primary reason for their departure. Soon after their departure, Johnson, Carey, Roberts and others joined another political party the Coalition for Democratic Reform (CDR).
The Mace incident
On Monday, December 3, 2001, Stuart and Smith dominated the national news when they intentionally disrupted the Sitting of the House of Assembly. Both men charged from the Public Gallery onto the House floor and handcuffed themselves to the Mace (symbol of the House Speaker's authority) in protest against the "unfair gerrymandering of the constituency boundaries by the FNM Administration". The Mace was unable to be separated from the men and thus, the Sitting had to be suspended. The pair was jailed for almost 2 days but no charges were brought against them. Ironically, the BDM's Mace Incident was strikingly similar to an event of important political significance in Bahamian history known as Black Tuesday. On that particular day, April 15, 1965, then-Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Sir Lynden Pindling threw the Mace out of the House of Assembly window in protest against the unfair gerrymandering of constituency boundaries of the then United Bahamian Party (UBP) government.
2002 General Elections
The BDM contested 12 of the 40 Parliamentary seats in the General Elections of 2002 winning no seats and less than 1% of the total votes cast. Despite its dismal performance at the polls, the BDM enjoys widespread admiration as well as criticism from the Bahamian public. Their support comes mainly from individuals under the age of 30. To date the BDM has been unable to effectively mobilize and organize the under 30 group to show up at the polls and support the party. Critics of the BDM charge that Stuart and Smith often engage in radical political action to 'grandstand' and claim that this behavior ultimately precludes the organization from fading into obscurity.
Prime Minister blocked from entering Parliament
On March 24, 2005, Stuart and Smith again dominated the national news when they briefly prevented Prime Minister Perry Christie from accessing the House of Assembly. It was a dramatic end to a protest taking place in the immediate vicinity of the Parliament against the government’s move to bring a resolution to Parliament giving a government Member of Parliament more time to appeal a bankruptcy order against him. The BDM claimed that the government would be abusing its constitutional authority in passing the resolution. This argument found its premise on a requirement of the Constitution of The Bahamas that any Member of Parliament who is declared bankrupt by the Courts must vacate his or her seat in the Parliament. Stuart and Smith were again arrested in the wake of the incident but the pair has yet to be charged before the Bahamian courts.