Shock rise of fledgeling party
“Bermuda can always count on me that I will rule with integrity and honesty. We have a lot of work to do. And the first thing in the morning we will be getting jobs back out there for Bermudians. We need to get Bermudians back to work” — Craig Cannonier, the new premier to the media after the One Bermuda Alliance claims a shock General Election victory in 2012
It was the most closely fought General Election in Bermuda’s history, and produced arguably the greatest shock.
On December 17, 2012 — only 19 months after it formed as an amalgamation of the maligned United Bermuda Party and ill-fated Bermuda Democratic Alliance — the One Bermuda Alliance defeated the Progressive Labour Party by 19 seats to 17.
A night of excruciating tension finally concluded shortly before midnight when 26-year-old Nandi Outerbridge sealed victory over Renée Ming by four votes in St George’s West.
Hammer blows for the PLP included Paula Cox, the Premier, losing her Devonshire North West seat to political newcomer Glen Smith, and defeats for former premier Dame Jennifer Smith and former ministers Dale Butler, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch and Patrice Minors to Kenneth Bascome, Mark Pettingill, Wayne Scott and Michael Dunkley respectively.
OBA leader Craig Cannonier, enjoying a stunning rise to Premier only 13 months after first becoming an MP, told supporters at a victory party at Vasco Da Gama club: “It’s a new Bermuda and a new day in politics.”
Many in the PLP regretted Ms Cox’s failure to call a snap election while the Opposition was in turmoil amid a string of resignations two years earlier.
Others felt the party had forgotten its roots by chasing middle-class voters at a time when many families were struggling in a recession, with an official unemployment rate of 8 per cent.
The OBA’s pledge to create 2,000 jobs would come back to haunt it, but hope appeared to spring eternal on the night of December 17.
Mr Cannonier said helping the victims of recession would be top of his new government’s to-do list.
“To those who cannot feed their families, seniors who cannot afford to stay in their own country, the OBA will work for you,” he said.
After years of heavy criticism of the PLP’s financial management, new finance minister Bob Richards declared: “Job 1? To find out what’s under the hood.”
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