The best time to be in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is not only during the Summer or during winter months. It is not only during the months of December and January for the Junkanoo parades either. The best time to be in the Bahamas are the weeks preceding the general elections.
On August 19th, 2021, the Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis of the Free National Movement, gave the Bahamas an early gift. He dissolved the Parliament and announced that general elections will be held on September 16th, 2021. The Prime Minister had until May of 2022 to have the elections but opted instead for a “snap election”. That means Bahamians and political parties have four weeks to prepare.
It signifies the official start of “Silly Season”. This means four weeks of debates, not among the candidates, but between family and friends. Wherever you go throughout the Bahamas, there can be heard lively discussions. Everyone seems to have the solution to solving the countries’ issues, even the unregistered and non-voters.
For context, the Bahamas has always been a two-party system. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM). The PLP was the government that brought the Bahamas to Independence in 1973. The FNM was founded in 1971 by eight breakaway members of the PLP. The two parties have been taking turns in governing ever since.
This election season, there are four additional parties seeking to take control of the Bahamas Government. They are the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), the Coalition of Independents, the Bahamas Constitution Party, and the Bahamas Democratic Movement. We hear this during every general election around the world, but the stakes are high. The Bahamas is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic as well as an economic crisis because of slowed tourism, the main economic driver.
The morning after the election date was announced, the streets of the Bahamas were awash in signs of red (FNM) and yellow (PLP). Given the fact that there is currently a nightly curfew of 9pm to 5am, this was a miraculous feat. It is my belief that the persons recruited to place the thousands of signs be recruited to every utility company and private entity. The response times for repairs would be slashed by more than 80%.
There is no doubt that an aerial view of each island would look like a massive hot dog with ketchup and mustard. For those that like extra, the splashes of green from the DNA would provide the relish. Unfortunately, the remaining parties appear not to have the resources to place political signs every twenty-four inches across the entire island. This means that they are forced to be creative and utilize social media.
Speaking of social media, general elections in the Bahamas is the time when erroneous information, aka, “fake news” abounds. There are memes and messages that affect all candidates and would make a weak person run away and hide. Every aspect of the hopeful representative’s lives are scrutinized. If nothing untoward is found, some crafty individuals create a new reality about them. Elections in the Bahamas forces individuals to use logic. If common sense is lacking in your toolbox, you will become easily confused by all the rhetoric.
This is the time when internal struggles can be witnessed on Facebook and WhatsApp. Persons that swore they could no longer continue to support their party, find themselves justifying why they will continue to do so. The four-week window has forced them to make a final decision.
With promises of a new day and reminders about our future, this general election will be one for the history books.
Yes, general elections in the Bahamas place brother against brother, sister against sister, friend against friend and spouse against spouse. Many friendships will be lost, hurtful words said, and alliances broken, but who said that Democracy does not come with a price.
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