In light of the recent crash election announced by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, there has been an uproar regarding the circumstances in which the announcement has been made. Amidst a number of dire crises, from a healthcare collapse to strikes from a number of agencies, there has been a sudden dissolution of Parliament.
As a result of this, we have been thrust into a sudden election season and campaigning will begin in our constituencies. This is a pivotal turning point in Bahamian history, seeing as a crash election has only taken place in our country once before.
As of now, there are six viable options to choose from in the upcoming general election: The Free National Movement (FNM), Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Democratic National Alliance (DNA), Coalition of Independents (COI), Kingdom Government Movement (KGM) and Bahamas Constitution Party (BCP).
*Editor’s note: The BCP has merged with the Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM) to form the United Coalition under the leadership of Cassius Stuart.
According to a survey done by IntelCay, a Bahamian information company, more than 25 percent of the Bahamians surveyed (5,695 participants) have either opted out of voting or are undecided. Their polls also suggest that the PLP is leading in the favor of the Bahamian people, followed by the FNM, DNA and COI. There is also large uncertainty about who will be able to secure the vote and support of the Grand Bahamian people post-Hurricane Dorian.
If you have registered, it’s imperative that you vote. It is not ideal to have a party you find unfavorable voted in because there were not enough votes for your more ideal party to have won instead. You can find the website of all political parties mentioned online and read about their plans for the future.
I won’t urge the Bahamian population to vote for one party over another; I have faith we’re a nation made of competent citizens who can make rational decisions on our own. We have our separate interests and values and which candidates reflect that is meant for each individual to determine on their own. However, I simply ask that the Bahamian people do their due diligence in making informed decisions and understanding why participating in their democracy is important.
Historically, we as a people, especially women, weren’t always granted the privilege of voting. There are many who risked their freedom, jobs and lives to ensure future generations would have a say in who governs their country.
I also ask the people to refrain from ‘’legacy’’ voting. In other words, voting for a party based on who your family members or peers are voting for. You need to re-evaluate the policies promoted by each political party each election cycle. Having unwavering loyalty to a party based on namesake and family ties will be a detriment to the larger society, which will have to live through the parties’ term.
Ensure you have serious conversations with your potential leaders. Ask them about their stances on a number of social issues such as education, healthcare, job opportunities, etc. Ask them about their optimal methods of dealing with the COVID-19 resurgence and how they plan to ensure the long-term well-being of the Bahamian people in the event we come into contact with another COVID variant. Ask them about their plans to diversify the economy, modernize infrastructure, care for our environment and utilize technology. If they’ve been in office, review their initial promises made prior to their last term in office and evaluate what promises were fulfilled. Demand full transparency and well-thought-out plans from those who you plan to put in power.
To my fellow young Bahamians, I will be casting my vote for the first time alongside many of you. This is a critical time for a number of issues to be addressed. Although voting can feel overwhelming, you will have done your part and should expect those in office to do the same. Don’t underestimate your ability to enact change by having conversations with your families about their choices that you will feel the brunt of as you enter the workforce. Be serious about your future and aware of what the party you will be voting in will do about ensuring you have the best opportunities possible.
The biggest threat to a democracy is an uninformed citizenry. Political literacy among the general public makes a world of a difference. Do not make the same decisions and expect different results. Do it for yourself, the Bahamian people and our future generations. Your vote matters.
Shura K Hanna
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