Opinion Writers

Bermuda’s primal politics and the undecided voters

  • Primary political philosophy: in Bermuda there is the philosophy that the Government has a social responsibility to provide for its people

In Bermuda, there have historically been two primal political philosophies with little support from the voters to venture on middle ground for fear of risking the unknown, even if the unknown might bring about positive change.

There is the philosophy that Bermuda should be run like a business: that property investment returns should not be taxed; foreign investment in our infrastructure and local companies is understood and accepted to be foreign-controlled for short-term gains; the citizens of our island are expected to stand on their own two feet with few social programmes; and that there is a reliance on the private sector to fund community infrastructure.

Then there is the philosophy that the Government has a social responsibility to provide for its people. That provision meaning public school students would have state-of-the-art and sufficient access to IT computer laboratories and trade facilities, music instruments, art supplies, laptops for students studying in their last year of high school. It would mean low-income senior citizens needing 24-hour care would be provided residential care, the sick or physically challenged would be supported, and community centres would be provided some with private counselling.

This philosophy relies on taxing the realised gains in commercial property investment and multiple residential property ownership, as well as consideration for implementing an under 3 per cent tax on company dividends.

The middle-ground politics has been offered by independent parliamentarian candidates, as well as optional third parties, but in all past occasions — credible or not — they did not receive the support of the Bermuda people; my interpretation of the middle ground being a blend of conservative views and social democratic belief.

In the election of 1998, when the Progressive Labour Party first won one under the leadership of Dame Jennifer Smith, white Bermudians for the first time did not vote based on race.

Since then, it has reverted to 93 per cent of whites saying they will vote for the One Bermuda Alliance, according to The Royal Gazette poll commissioned in May. Actually this same poll noted 18 per cent of those surveyed were still unsure which political party they would choose, or were not sure if they would vote at all.

I am estimating that 6 per cent of the undecided voters are white Bermudians fed up with the OBA but not prepared to vote PLP, and that approximately 12 per cent are black Bermudian women, mostly professionals who are sitting on the fence unsure of which way to vote.

I imagine most will have the innate partiality towards taking care of our people but are unsure if they believe that the Opposition has learnt its lesson to be fiscally responsible with the public purse.

Undoubtedly, this will be one of the most exciting elections since 1998 because no one can truly predict which way it will go, particularly considering that there are some credible independent parliamentarian candidates.

Whatever the outcome, please let’s except that the majority will have spoken in a democratic and non-violent election, and that we must all be respectful of the outcome.

Cheryl Pooley is a social commentator and three-times former parliamentary candidate

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