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Atherden pushed for diversity

Outgoing Opposition leader Jeanne Atherden did not see herself as leader of the country, she told The Royal Gazette only a few months ago.

Asked if she viewed herself as the next premier, in July, Ms Atherden replied: “No.”

She explained she saw herself as the leader who got the One Bermuda Alliance “up and running” again after its massive General Election defeat last summer and encouraged others to join the party and kindled in them an interest in a political career.

Ms Atherden said: “For me, that means to get more people into the party who have the passion to want to become an elected representative, who have the passion to be wanting to go out in the constituencies.”

Ms Atherden was sworn in as Opposition leader on November 21 last year.

She will have been in charge for little more than 300 days if she is replaced, as expected, this week.

Her brief tenure began with a bang when she axed Nick Kempe, an OBA rising star, from the Senate and replaced him with political newcomer Justin Mathias.

The move caused Mr Kempe to resign as OBA chairman after only five days in the job.

The decision to remove Mr Kempe was not popular with many in the OBA.

Craig Cannonier, a former premier now looking to replace Ms Atherden as leader, said later: “We are not heading in the direction I would like to see the party heading.”

Ms Atherden's support for the 25-year-old Mr Mathias baffled some.

Michael Fahy, a former senator and OBA minister, said Mr Mathias had “enjoyed an inexplicably meteoric rise” in the OBA, but the Opposition leader emphasised the need for diversity in age, as well as race and gender in the party's ranks.

OBA MPs Grant Gibbons and Jeff Baron both resigned from politics under her watch, which caused two by-elections in June.

Mr Mathias was picked as OBA candidate for Mr Baron's Warwick North East seat and lost to the Progressive Labour Party's Curtis Dickinson.

The defeat reduced the number of Opposition MPs in the House of Assembly from 12 to 11.

Mr Mathias became party chairman in July.

Ms Atherden removed Andrew Simons, who, like Mr Kempe, was seen as a serious political player by many in the party, from the Senate the same month.

Michael Dunkley, who had been OBA premier, pledged to take a back seat after the election defeat and his resignation as party leader.

However, he has often seemed more visible and more vocal than Ms Atherden, but she did speak out after the “titty milk” controversy involving Wayne Caines, the national security minister.

Ms Atherden criticised “sexist” and “arrogant” MPs and called for more women in politics and in positions of power.

Perhaps her lowest moment, in PR terms at least, was in July, when she was pictured apparently asleep in Parliament, along with several other politicians.

Out of season: Opposition leader Jeanne Atherden

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Published September 21, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated September 21, 2018 at 11:20 am)

Atherden pushed for diversity

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