Bahamians will head to the polls next month for the country’s general election more than eight months before they were expected to. In a move that caught the nation off guard, Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Thursday announced that a general election would take place on September 16.
Minnis says he called the snap election because the country needs a new mandate.
“Your next government will have to make important decisions on rebuilding and renewing a post-Covid-19 Bahamas,” Minnis said in a televised national address.
“As a result of our country reaching the goal of securing the vaccines we need, it is now time for the Bahamian people to choose who they want to lead them as we move toward vaccinating every Bahamian who wishes to be vaccinated. Your next government will have key decisions to make in enacting post-pandemic public health legislation.”
The last general election was held in The Bahamas on May 10, 2017. The governing Free National Movement (FNM) party won 35 of the 39 seats in Parliament, unseating the then-Christie led, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Government.
In The Bahamas, governments are elected to serve for five years.
Minnis, whose time in office has been plagued with economic woes, a devastating hurricane and a health pandemic, has had to deal with a confidence crisis in his leadership.
Opposition Leader, Philip ‘Brave’ Davis has especially been critical of his political opponent.
“Everywhere we look, we see chaos and collapse and crisis. Our hospitals are stretched beyond capacity, affecting not just our ability to treat Covid patients, but everyone else, too,” Davis said.
“Our economy is stuck with too many Bahamians still left out. For those lucky enough to have jobs, wages are often too low to keep up with the cost of living.”
Covid-19 Is Seriously Impacting The Bahamas
As of August 18, there have been nearly 17,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 330 Covid-19 deaths in The Bahamas. Forty-four deaths are currently under investigation.
The Bahamas had issues securing additional vaccines, but that has all changed now.
The Minnis administration has secured more than 550,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines. But, he faces growing opposition to vaccinations. Many Bahamians are still skeptical and unwilling to inoculate themselves against the potentially deadly virus.
The Bahamas is also dealing with an economic storm. Its debt has grown to nearly $10 billion. International rating agency, Moody’s is in the process of finalising its assessment of the Bahamian economy, which, if negative, will affect The Bahamas’ ability to borrow money at favourable rates.