Column: Renee Webb On Election & By-Elections

August 14, 2020 | 5 Comments

[Opinion column written by Renee Webb]

Bermuda is going to have a general election sometime in the next 22 months, regardless of whether it is sooner or later..

Our system is such that we can have an election within a five-year span on a date that the Premier chooses. We have just entered year four.

Some would argue that our democracy is strong with our first past the post system, which allows the Premier to call the election to his advantage. No doubt, it ensures that both the opposition and government parties have to be prepared for an election at any time. Political parties should be out in the community constantly connecting with voters. Indeed, if a future or current MP is wise, they would be canvassing their constituents, learning about their concerns and needs, often.

After Trevor Moniz’ resignation, the Opposition Leader stated that we can expect more resignations. Already, 25% of the OBA MPs elected in 2017 have resigned. I grant the Opposition Leader this point, it is certainly possible that we could see many by-elections in the coming months. It is important to note that each by-election costs $30,000 currently. It is also important to note that those costs will go up in the COVID environment to ensure that social distancing, masks, and extra security at polling locations is met.

This is not, however, only about cost. It must be challenging for OBA MPs to go from being Government to the Opposition benches. We are not surprised that more will jump ship rather than wait until the next election.

In total, we’ve already had 2 by-elections due to resignations and 1 due to an unfortunate passing. We have another now thanks to Trevor Moniz’ resignation. This number of by-elections is unprecedented in our recent history.

Imagine if we had 3, 5 or more resignations from both benches in the coming months? These by-elections would cost $100,000 – $200,000. It makes sense, given the large number of MPs that want to retire or just give up and leave, that we save taxpayer funds on by-elections, get on with it and have a general election.

I, for one, would rather see Bermuda come together after a general election rather than have a series of divisive and expensive by-elections followed by a general election. Bermuda needs political stability and unity to tackle our economic recovery post-COVID-19. We need to reshape our country so that it benefits Bermudians, residents, and business in these unprecedented times.

I am not the Premier. I acknowledge that the decision of a general election lies with him. I trust that he saves us from more by-election distractions and calls a general election. We need to come together, get people back to work and focus on ways to build the Bermuda economy for the betterment of us all.

- Renee Webb

Update 1.27pm: An OBA spokesperson said, “In his speech announcing Vic Ball as the OBA candidate for Smith’s West, Party Leader, Craig Cannonier specifically mentioned that MPs from both parties, the PLP and the OBA, are likely to retire at some stage.”

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Comments (5)

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  1. Unbelievable says:

    This column just goes to show that the Westminster system is a drain on the Bermuda Government’s fragile finances plus it no longer works to the benefit of Bermuda.

  2. Stopthemisrepresentation says:

    Cannonier talked about oba AND plp MPs retiring! How many plp will quit soon?!

  3. inna says:

    1st: “It must be challenging for OBA MPs to go from being Government to the Opposition benches. We are not surprised that more will jump ship rather than wait until the next election.”

    2nd: “Bermuda needs political stability and unity to tackle our economic recovery post-COVID-19. We need to reshape our country so that it benefits Bermudians, residents, and business in these unprecedented times.”

    Hmmm…

  4. sandgrownan says:

    How about fewer MP’s..fewer constituencies.

  5. red rose says:

    Ms Webb would be much better informing us of her work in our Brussels office and what she is doing to make sure the EU does not target us further in the future!

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