The Bermuda Government has no plans to extend voting rights to Bermudians living permanently abroad. At the end of last year, absentee ballots allowing students to vote were proposed for the new legislative year by the One Bermuda Alliance. However, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, told The Royal Gazette that the Government has no immediate plans to widen it out to include those living overseas long-term. “Because they have moved their place of residence, the constitution is clear, as is the Parliamentary Election Act, that those ordinarily living outside Bermuda cannot vote in Bermuda elections,” Mr Fahy said.
Voters have ousted the political party that has ruled the wealthy British territory of Bermuda for 16 years, according to preliminary general election results early Tuesday. Bermuda Premier Paula Cox’s Progressive Labor Party was defeated by the One Bermuda Alliance, which was founded following the 2007 elections and will rule the territory for the first time. Cox also lost her seat in the House of Assembly, where the One Bermuda Alliance claimed 19 of 36 seats for a two-seat majority.
Bermudians head to polling stations today in a historic general election that both parties feel confident of winning. Today’s poll is the first to be held under redrawn constituency boundaries since the single seat electoral system was introduced in 2003, the first to be held without the United Bermuda Party and the first to have as many as 15 independent candidates seeking office since the advent of party politics 50 years ago. And the election is also taking place in the context of the worst economic recession in living memory for most of the 43,767 voters who are registered to cast their ballots today.
Ninety percent of registered voters will likely head to the polls on December 17, according to the latest survey. While 43 percent of voters say they will vote for the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance, and 30 percent for the governing Progressive Labour Party, almost a quarter say they do not know — or refuse to say — who they will be casting their ballot for. Independent candidates said the results reflect Bermuda’s political and racial polarisation, dissatisfaction with the political system, and vindicate their positions. But some have suggested that the survey is part of a conspiracy to influence the outcome of the elections.
Fixed term elections, an independent electoral commission and ethical governance are among a raft of items due to be discussed today in a take note motion led by United Bermuda Party MP Kim Swan. They feature in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s recommended benchmarks for democratic legislatures in the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region developed last summer. The take note motion will kick off debate on the benchmarks, which were tabled in the form of a brochure last week.
Bermuda: Reform electoral system to combat racial polarisation UBP leader Kim Swan | Bermuda Politics
Bermuda must have electoral reform to rid the Island of racial polarisation, according to UBP MP Kim Swan. Mr Swan was reacting to a poll on Monday, for The Royal Gazette, which showed 38 percent of people said they would vote OBA in a general election, with 32 percent opting for the PLP. The Mindmaps poll was carried out shortly after the fledgling party’s debut conference.
But the survey found that the OBA is attracting much of its support from whites and the older generation. The survey found that the OBA had 72 percent of the white vote and 16 percent of the black vote, but the PLP took five percent of the white vote and 49 percent of the black vote.
In a statement yesterday Mr Swan said: “The Royal Gazette poll released on Monday, September 26, highlights that the repeated trends of racial polarisation, prevalent for the past four decades, continue in Bermuda in 2011.
One Bermuda Alliance Chairman Michael Fahy yesterday called for fixed term elections as speculation grows over when Premier Paula Cox will send people to the polls. The OBA has pledged in its platform to introduce fixed term elections as part of a proposal to improve democracy meaning a general election would take place on a set date instead of one the Premier selects.
After Ms Cox put the Progressive Labour Party in election mode last week, Mr Fahy told The Royal Gazette: “In the event of an election being called the OBA will be prepared to contest all constituencies.