It would be entirely remiss not to comment on the recent parting of Mark Pettingill from the ruling One Bermuda Alliance. The House stands at 17-17 with two independents, while the OBA holds the reins of government for the rest of this term. It is a balance made even more precarious because the sitting Speaker is a member of the Opposition. If Randy Horton were to give up the voluntary position, the Opposition would be left with a majority vote because the OBA would be forced to give up one of its members to occupy the seat.
The OBA, which is an amalgam of the former United Bermuda Party and the breakaway Bermuda Democratic Alliance, has clearly become less of an alliance, as most of the former have either resigned or have been sidelined.
Beginning with Craig Cannonier stepping down as premier, followed closely by the chairman, Thaddeus Hollis, these were the first visible signs that the alliance was faltering. If there were any denials, all doubt has been removed by the double resignations of Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell, who were prominent among the BDA.
The UBP maintained its internal divisions for decades as the more conservative elements dominated. The divisions were deep and the debates stretched across a broad spectrum of opinion. The clash of personalities was a known feature of the old party, therefore it comes as no surprise where the fault lines in the present ruling party would occur. The outcome should also be very predictable because the reins are firmly in the hands of the more conservative elements of the party.
Whether its matters pertain to law, finance or the politics of the country, the attitude would be conservative. I can recall back in the early 2000s watching an attitude among the old UBP, which was grappling with the reason behind its 1998 failure at the polls. Unwilling to yield, it was as though the doctrine was: ďIf conservative didnít work for us, letís try ultraconservative.Ē
It was that entrenched polarising position that led to the exodus and eventual break-up of the UBP.
The natural and immediate quandary is the stability of Parliament and the ruling party, which still has ripples of dissatisfaction on the bench. While all eyes may be on the dissident ruling Members of Parliament, it is Speaker of the House actually holding the balance of power. While it is more likely the existing dynamic will not change, it is possibly the worst possible scenario for the sitting government in an election year.
The Progressive Labour Party conceivably could not be happier witnessing this clear fragility within the ruling party, particularly when some of its own sitting Members have been featured in the Commission of Inquiry. While no indictments have resulted, and are not likely before a General Election, it has detracted from the popularity of a return to power for the PLP. So rather than a PLP riding a popular wave of its own, it will instead ride in on the back of the unpopularity of the OBA.
Essentially like the previous election, but in role reversal, the OBA stand poised to lose the election for its faults, rather than the case of the PLP winning through its merits.