The reaction of the election loser
There are two ‘unconventional’ scenarios that could result in the next general election if the third party – the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) – wins a few seats. There could be a minority government if no party wins a majority, but one is able to convince the governor general that it could govern. The other option is a coalition government could result. We say unconventional because those types of governments do not occur frequently in The Bahamas.
The most likely scenario, though, is that either the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) or the Free National Movement (FNM) will win and form the government, and the other major party will be the official opposition.
It will be interesting to witness the reaction of the leader of the losing major party. Perry Christie appears determined to be prime minister again to prove he is good enough to serve multiple terms, just as Sir Lynden Pindling and Hubert Ingraham have.
If the PLP loses the election, with the FNM winning 20 seats and it securing a close number like 18 seats, it is unclear if the 68-year-old Christie would go anywhere. Such a majority is unstable. As we have seen this parliamentary term with the resignation of Malcolm Adderley from the House of Assembly and Kenyatta Gibson crossing over from the PLP to the FNM, margins of one are unlikely to lead to longevity for a government.
Consequently, Christie is likely to fight on and attempt to negotiate his way to the fall of the Ingraham government, or to his own majority by luring away marginal FNMs.
If the PLP loses decisively and the FNM secures a strong majority, Christie would have been twice defeated and by an increased margin. No PLP could force him to leave, but the party elite would pressure him to go. Whether he would go or not is up to Christie. He has appointed a ring of protectors (stalwarts) to ensure he cannot be beaten in a leadership race.
Ingraham is a more complicated character. If he loses 20 seats to 18 seats, he too might make an attempt to lure several PLPs to secure a major. If such an effort is unsuccessful, he would likely leave. If the FNM is beaten soundly by the PLP, we think he would go graciously and quickly.
The difference in this regard is that Ingraham appears to be more content with his legacy. He defeated Sir Lynden; he won back-to-back terms; he won reelection after his party lost an election. Politically, there is not much else for him to do.
The reaction of the losing leader will be significant for the losing party. If a party loses and is able to transition quickly to new energetic younger leadership, the eyes of the country would be on the new leader of the opposition. He or she would have a fair chance at being the next prime minister if the time in opposition is used to demonstrate that the party has a new, bold vision for the country.
However, if the losing leader fights a divisive battle to stay after being rejected in his mid to late 60s, the party and leader might miss the message the electorate conveyed and suffer a worse fate the next time around.
We won’t have to speculate on the future for too much longer. Voting time is near.
Feb 28, 2012