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Dunkley: view of politicians understandable

Better days ahead: Michael Dunkley, the Premier, believes “we’re on the cusp of an island-wide revival” (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Michael Dunkley, the Premier, has called on the disaffected Bermudian public to help improve the island’s political system through increased participation.

A Royal Gazette poll published yesterday revealed that 57 per cent of people believed that both the One Bermuda Alliance and the Progressive Labour Party had too much infighting for either to run the country.

All four of Bermuda’s leading politicians (Mr Dunkley, PLP leader Marc Bean, Bob Richards, the Deputy Premier and PLP deputy leader David Burt) were also widely chastised.

Asked to choose which politician they rated best on transparency, unity or trust, easily the most popular response from the public was none of them.

In response, the Premier suggested that the island’s lengthy recession had affected its inhabitants’ morale, self-confidence and optimism.

“It makes sense that people have lost faith in the ability of parties and politicians, because they have their hands on the levers of policy and spending, and they should be able to improve the conditions that affect people’s everyday lives,” Mr Dunkley said.

“So the conduct of politicians, who seem to spend more time bickering and slagging each other off, certainly adds to the cynicism and frustration, which is reflected in polls like this.”

Mr Dunkley argued that the OBA’s increased transparency via initiatives such as the Public Access to Information Act and his party’s travel expenses website had upped both expectations and frustrations among the public.

“I knew from the first day that it would be a very high bar for us to go over,” he said.

“But it means that, slowly but surely, the performance of politicians will improve and the public will see that.”

Describing himself as confident and optimistic by nature, the Premier said that he would not allow himself to be affected by negativity or cynicism.

“Better days are ahead. We’re making progress; it hasn’t come fast enough for many people, but I really believe we’re on the cusp of an island-wide revival in many areas,” he said.

And Mr Dunkley added that the Bermudian public should harness their frustration with the island’s political shortcoming to help make a difference.

“If you don’t like the personalities in the parties, or how they’re conducting themselves, get involved and help turn it around,” he said.

“I think both parties have a core value of trying to help our community move forward, and they need support.

“We’re stronger together and the more people that get involved, the more progress that we’ll make.”

Mr Dunkley was speaking on behalf of himself and the Deputy Premier.

Mr Bean declined to comment on the poll, while Mr Burt did not respond to a request for interview.