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Bean launches new third party to contest election

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He’s back: Marc Bean has launched the Free Democratic Movement just in time for the upcoming General Election (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Former Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean has launched a third force in politics — and his new Free Democratic Movement said it planned to field candidates in the General Election next month.The new party’s website said: “To enjoy a peaceful and prosperous Bermuda, each citizen has to be given the opportunity to achieve their full potential.“FDM strives to create a nation built on upholding the rights of the people and empowering them to pursue their divine purpose.”It appealed to voters: “On election day, vote for FDM for a better Bermuda.”The party’s website said it had been founded on Tuesday as “a direct response to the loud cries from the people of Bermuda for genuine leadership, understanding and representation”.The party’s website also revealed a cedar tree logo and a six-point list of key principles.They included the promotion of equal rights for all, limited government to ensure the rights of individuals were respected and “treating everyone equally” and not “rewarding failure nor punishing success”.The party also committed to a hands-off approach to government — subsidiarity — to make sure that authority “resides at the lowest possible level”.The party also promised “spontaneous order” — the maximisation of economic benefits for all — and the encouragement of “private ownership of resources”.The FDM’s “golden rule” was said to be “encouraging honesty among all members of society”.Mr Bean is the leader of the party, but other founder members include businessman Eugene Dean, anti-violence campaigner Desmond Crockwell, Kae Thomas Palacio and Kyle Bridgewater. Mr Bean stood down as leader of the PLP in November 2016 after a major illness a few months earlier.But his time as leader was marked by controversy — and internal clashes that saw seven MPs quit his Shadow Cabinet.Erratic behaviour in the House of Assembly and in public also proved damaging, such as the impulsive threat in March 2015 to “take out” government MPs that got him a week’s suspension from Parliament — and insults aimed at former One Bermuda Alliance senator Toni Daniels outside the Sandys South polling station in November 2014 that offended many supporters.Mr Bean’s youth — then in his early forties — and a reputation as a straight talker, won him favour in the wake of the party’s General Election defeat of 2012.His popularity with voters endured even after he quit, as many PLP supporters viewed him as cleaning house in the party.But his bluntness also caused him problems and alienated crucial supporters.Many in the Opposition of the day were angered by Mr Bean’s remarks in August 2016 when he condemned a “politics of plunder” attitude in both parties.Mr Bean had already landed in hot water after he told the House of Assembly in 2014 that he had cured his daughter’s asthma with “ganja tea”. Internal dissent led to the 2015 departure of seven MPs from his Shadow Cabinet.David Burt, now the Premier, who was Acting Leader of the Opposition over Mr Bean’s medical leave, also stepped down as the Shadow Minister of Finance,Mr Bean was first brought into the legislature by Ewart Brown, who was Premier when he appointed him to the Senate in 2008.He joined the House of Assembly in 2010 when he won the by-election to replace Dr Brown as the Warwick South Central MP.Less than a year later, Paula Cox, the Premier, appointed him Minister of the Environment.Mr Bean’s career as leader began with a comfortable landslide against rival Terry Lister at a party conference in the aftermath of the PLP’s 2012 defeat at the hands of the OBA.