Khalid Wasi

Revving up the polls near and far

  • Election watch: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Donald Trump, the United States President (File photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Two-and-a-half years gone and two more to go, thus the election bell begins to chime. America is into presidential-election mode, Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, is defending his leadership and Bermuda is quietly slipping into its favourite pastime itself.

On the American front, there are some hot buttons ostensibly driven on both sides of the border by Trump. In Canada, pipelines and gaining access for their oil to global markets and the rising deficit spending may dominate the topic for the economy, with each affected heavily by Canada’s relationship with the United States administration.

The US elections will be decided on the strength of anti-Trumpism, with the electoral college being the biggest challenge to uproot his presidency, and not the popular vote, which almost assuredly he will lose.

The economy will be a significant factor for Bermuda’s election also, but not exclusively.

Bermuda is not another world, but its rationale for deciding political outcomes does not follow simple logic. There are extenuating circumstances that usually decide who wins, largely based on an unsatisfied racial conflict.

On first assumptions, if there was a way to read the minds of the electorate, there would be a buzzing sound that says the Progressive Labour Party will retain the government because the One Bermuda Alliance cannot oust it. It is not as though the PLP is in an unassailable position or that it is beaming with popular support. But there is the sense that the OBA cannot do it.

On the surface, the economy is slowly sinking with rising cost of healthcare and social welfare with no real signs of growth. The new regulatory requirements for business having a physical presence on the island presents a situation of boom or bust, with the optimist holding on to the hope that losses will be balanced by those who decide to stay under the new terms with a net result of status quo.

The Government is promoting fintech and bit currency, each of which is futuristic and a trend to which the world will adjust. There is no boom in this high-technology approach. It is not a rallying force that speaks to the base support of the labour government or any labour government — technology replaces labour. Nevertheless, there would be collateral development required to facilitate the new-world technologies that will benefit labour.

After all is said, it is jobs and employment that will be the barometer setting the mode for support or non-support of the Government. The airport will be finished soon, which means the construction industry will be soft with no major projects. Construction is always the best indicator of a healthy economy because it provides many skilled and unskilled high-paying jobs.

These elections in some way will be a test of the electorate’s expectations. We can expect a huge turnout for the American elections, but there is not the same urgency seemingly at present in Bermuda.