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Landslide as PLP regains power

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Election 2017: Premier David Burt with his wife, Kristin (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Progressive Labour Party last night soared to a stunning General Election victory, with David Burt set to become the island’s youngest premier and Bob Richards the greatest casualty for the One Bermuda Alliance.

Union activist Christopher Famous defeated the former finance minister 513 to 419 in Devonshire East to record the biggest shock of the night. Immediately afterwards, Mr Richards announced his retirement from politics.

It was one of seven seats the PLP took from the OBA throughout the evening, to complete a 24-12 win — enjoying almost 59 per cent of the vote — and sparking scenes of jubilation in and around Alaska Hall.

Wayne Caines won back the Devonshire North West seat for the PLP, defeating incumbent Glen Smith and independent Paula Cox. The former premier, who many in the PLP had thought would take votes from her former party, ended up with just 41 votes against 568 for Mr Caines. Mr Smith scored 385.

Kim Swan reclaimed St George’s West for the PLP, taking 65 per cent of the votes to easily see off Nandi Outerbridge. Renée Ming won comfortably against Kenneth Bascome in St George’s North and Tineé Furbert saw off Suzann Roberts-Holshouser in St George’s South.

With Lovitta Foggo triumphant once again in St David’s, it was a green sweep in the East End battleground.

Dennis Lister III defeated Jeff Sousa in what was considered a reasonably safe OBA seat in Warwick West. In Warwick North Central, a seat won narrowly by the OBA in 2012, David Burch defeated Sheila Gomez by 661 to 338.

Mr Burt, 38, who defeated Nick Kempe in Pembroke West Central and will likely be sworn in today as premier, told joyous supporters outside Alaska Hall: “The most important people to thank today is all of you.

“Family, as I said, this belongs to all of you, because all of you saw through the negative attacks, all of you saw through what they tried to say about the PLP and you believed in your hearts that the 36 of us, together with all of you, could change the course of our country.”

On a disastrous night for the OBA, defeated former premier Michael Dunkley acknowledged that his party had suffered some “crushing defeats” on a “tough day”.

“Congratulations to Mr Burt and the PLP,” he said. “My colleagues and I wish them all the best as they try and move Bermuda forward.”

Speaking immediately after his defeat, Mr Richards said: “I am certainly going to retire from politics. This is the end of the line for me. My public service is done.”

Before yesterday, the OBA, after four and a half years in power, had high hopes of holding on to most of their seats and even pinching one or two from the PLP.

But Ray Charlton, who lost by just eight votes to Michael Scott in Sandys North in 2012, was defeated 577 to 297. Andrew Simons, who lost by just six votes to Walton Brown in Pembroke Central five years ago, lost by 540 votes to 283.

Mr Sousa lost by 12 votes to Mr Lister, a shock defeat for a politician so certain of victory in Warwick West that he said before the count: “I am not going to lose; that would be a miracle. I know my people. I know my constituents.”

The OBA had even harboured hopes of Mr Kempe causing a shock against Mr Burt but, in the end, the PLP leader won 639 to 326, increasing his majority almost fourfold.