October: PLP 30-OBA 6
Although the Premier’s decision to call a General Election midway through a parliamentary term had come as a surprise, the result of that contest was probably never in doubt.
On October 1, Bermudians went to the polls and gave David Burt one of the biggest mandates in Bermuda’s electoral history.
The ruling Progressive Labour Party won 30 seats and more than 62 per cent of the popular vote, reducing the One Bermuda Alliance to just six MPs in the House of Assembly.
A third party – the fledgeling Free Democratic Movement – failed to make a dent in the ruling party’s popularity.
The Government had won strong approval ratings for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the six months before the election, and Mr Burt – not surprisingly – played on that success.
On the eve of the poll, the PLP rolled out a stark choice for voters.
“On the one hand, we have David Burt and the PLP team who ably managed the pandemic and who has a clear and detailed plan to rebuild our economy with a heart for Bermudians,” a party spokeswoman said.
“On the other, we have Craig Cannonier and the OBA, who only offer attacks and have no ideas and no solutions for Bermuda's future.”
Voters overwhelmingly agreed.
Perhaps the one surprise to emerge from the result was the low voter turnout. A little more than half of the island’s 46,311 registered voters cast their ballots.
That was scant consolation for the Opposition and – in another non-surprise – party leader Craig Cannonier stood down shortly after the drubbing.
Mr Burt was magnanimous in victory. He could, after all, afford to be.
Pledging not to take “this significant margin” for granted, he said: “We have an incredibly difficult road ahead for this country and it is going to require us all to work together.
“I now say that it is time for us to put aside our red, our yellow and our green – our historical divisions – and come together as one people, one Bermuda, to recover our economy and to build a more inclusive economy that benefits all.”
The Premier was wise to be concerned about the economy. Statistics released in the middle of October showed that employment income in the second quarter had plummeted by $113 million – a result of layoffs brought about by Covid-19.
A Royal Gazette editorial penned at the end of the month outlined the island’s precarious position.
“Bermuda continues to walk a tightrope between protecting the community from Covid-19 and opening the economy to tourism,” it said.
“It will take very little to cause a second wave of infections and renewed shutdowns, as is occurring in other countries.
“This remains the greatest threat to recovery. Bermuda residents and visitors must remain vigilant against the spread of the virus, even as cases remain low. Bermuda has survived the first lockdown, but the cost has been great. It may not be able to afford a second one.”