OBA sets date for leadership election
The first leadership election for the One Bermuda Alliance will take place on September 10.
The announcement was made yesterday morning by the newly-formed Opposition party’s chairman, Michael Fahy.
John Barritt, the party’s interim leader since it was formed in May, will step down and does not plan to stand in the election.
Mr Fahy, who does not plan to run for the leadership either, said: “Not only will the party elect a party leader and deputy leader at this election meeting, but also a new party executive including party chairman and deputy chairman.”
He said it will be the first open political leadership election in Bermuda where anyone who is a member of the party can participate. The Progressive Labour Party and the now-defunct United Bermuda Party both use a system of branches and delegates to elect their leaders.
Mr Fahy said: “The party organised itself to include Bermudians from all walks of life who want to see change in the way politics is conducted. We operate as a broad church, open to all who wish to join and abide by our principles and who are prepared to put Bermuda first.
“We are committed to enhancing our democracy by making our system of government more inclusive, more transparent and more collaborative for the public and parliamentarians.
“Finally, our aim is to draw from the widest possible membership to broaden participation and commitment to public service and putting Bermuda first.
“In keeping with these approaches, this will be the first-ever open election for a party leader in Bermuda. I say that in the sense that anyone can participate as long as they are a signed-up member of the party and are on the Parliamentary Register.
“In the interest of expanding participation, people can join the party on the night of the conference.”
According to Mr Fahy, the OBA currently has in excess of 350 members.
He added: “In terms of getting involved in the election, we will have nomination forms on our website, along with party membership forms. To keep the public informed, we will announce the candidates on September 1. The leadership election will bring about an end to our four-month interim period where we focused on laying the foundations of the party constitutionally, administratively, policy development and membership; along with our work in Parliament. We look forward to Bermudians from all walks of life joining us to elect new leadership and bring change to Bermuda.”
Senators Michael Dunkley and Craig Cannonier and MP Bob Richards have all been named as potential party leaders by political pundits.
Asked about the status of interim leader John Barritt, the popular 18-year-veteran MP who represents Devonshire South Central, Mr Fahy said: “John is the leader of the OBA until such time as the elections on September 10. If a non-MP is elected as leader, Mr Barritt will be stepping down from his seat as well as as leader and there will have to be a by-election. We will give that individual the opportunity to run for the seat.”
If the new leader saw off challenges from the Progressive Labour Party and any other candidate running in the former United Bermuda Party stronghold, he or she would take Mr Barritt’s seat when the House of Assembly resumes in November.
In order to contend, persons wishing to become leader and deputy leader must submit the supporting signatures of at least two MPs and/or Senators and 15 members of the One Bermuda Alliance. Signatories must be on the electoral roll.
Leader or deputy leader contenders may only put their name forward for one position, not both. They are permitted to run as a combined ticket and say so during their speeches and, if agreed in advance, when gathering signatures.
At the conference, the speeches for leader and deputy leader shall be no more than 12 minutes. The winning candidates must get at least 50 percent of the popular vote. There will be rounds of votes until that threshold is achieved. The candidate with the lowest number of votes in any given round is eliminated from the next round.
The election meeting will be held at the Southampton Princess Hotel, beginning at 7.30pm on September 10.
Useful website: www.oba.bm