Mitchell warns Bahamians to be prepared for election in six months
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is expected to complete its slate of candidates for the next general election by February 1, in anticipation of the prime minister calling an early election.
PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell said yesterday that the party has completed aspirant candidate interviews on Grand Bahama and will conduct its final interviews on Eleuthera next week.
“We know that the other side has already got their paraphernalia and everything ordered, so we are lined up in the same direction because the indications are that this man intends to call an election before the next budget,” he said.
“Bahamians ought to anticipate within six months a full slate of candidates but also a full campaign unfolding.”
The Bahamas held its last General Election in May 2017 and has to hold the next one by May 2022.
The prime minister has the sole power to set the election date.
Asked what indicators the party has seen to believe that an election could be called early, Mitchell said based on “private intelligence” the party is aware the FNM is also readying their campaign.
He noted that the prime minister is “using the pandemic to campaign up and down the country” and will seek to tout it as part of his campaign.
“The idea is while there is a kind of period of relative calm in this winter period, they will use this to say: ‘Look how well we have managed the pandemic. We have saved the nation and we need to continue to be at the wheel.’
“That’s their campaign and they want to do it before the budget takes place.”
Mitchell opined that with the budget coming up in June, the government will have to borrow more money and cut public expenditure again, which would not benefit them in the election.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has continually said that the government will table legislation to introduce term limits for prime ministers and a fixed election date, however, that has not come to fruition.
The PLP began its search for new candidates in earnest just several months after it suffered a landslide defeat at the May 2017 polls, winning only four of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly.
In August 2019, Mitchell said there will be a 75 percent turnover of new candidates in the next election, compared to the last election.
He noted yesterday, however, that that turnover does not prevent any former member of Parliament from applying to run again.
Mitchell could not indicate how many former PLP MPs could be making a return to frontline politics, noting that the candidates committee had not completed its selections