Premier Michael Dunkley made the announcement on the eve of what looked set to be a showdown on the Progressive Labour Party’s (PLP) motion of no confidence in the House of Assembly.
Flanked by Cabinet colleagues and party members at One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) headquarters, Mr Dunkley ended weeks of speculation by announcing that Parliament has been dissolved following Governor John Rankin’s assent for the writ of election.
But he dismissed suggestions that the PLP forced his hand by the vote of no confidence motion and said he had five different options. “Two have passed, two are in the future, and this is the one that matters – I have called it,” said Mr Dunkley.
He noted that one of the reasons he set the date in July was because it’s during the summer break when students studying abroad are at home on holiday.
Absentee balloting was promised in the first term of the OBA Government, but not fulfilled. Mr Dunkley said yesterday it is still in the pipeline and will be introduced should the OBA win the upcoming election, in addition to fixed term elections, the Boundaries Commission report and roadside testing.
While noting that “Bermuda has made great strides since the election of December 2012”, he expressed disappointment as a result of what he termed the “politics of destabilization”.
We’ve worked hard to turn around a dire situation that was hurting Bermudian families in unprecedented numbers,” he said. “We brought Bermuda back from the brink of economic collapse, and cleared a path to recovery and renewal that is bringing relief to more and more households every day.
“We’ve made real progress in restoring jobs, opportunity and hope, but we still have a ways to go.
“Unfortunately, the politics of destabilization threatens this national progress just as Bermuda is taking centre stage before the world, just as we’re taking flight. It is deeply disappointing, and it is why we are here this evening.
“This election then will be about affirming Bermuda’s commitment to continuing the recovery, and the national effort needed to keep it going.
“All of us as Bermudians will have the opportunity and growth or risk stepping off the path for something vague and untested,” he said.
“You will have the opportunity to decide who has the experience, and the record, to protect the livelihoods and future of your loved ones.” And he appealed to the electorate to help the OBA team to “keep the Island moving forward”.
“We stand for One Bermuda, not two. We stand for inclusion and we deeply oppose the politics of division. We believe that by ensuring opportunity and fairness in all things we can get to that better place where the possibilities for Bermudians are limitless.
“Our work is not finished. We were elected to replace a faltering government and we’ve spent our time in office fixing an economy that was hurting people by the score, narrowing their future.
“It was a mammoth task to stop the negative momentum we inherited slowing the massive deficits that powered the debt and rebuilding confidence in Bermuda among investors and businesses that had turned away from the Island.
“Now, look around today and you can see Bermuda changing for the better: New hotel construction, the airport redevelopment, The America’s Cup, the tourism renaissance and renewed confidence in the Island – all providing Bermudians with new opportunities and new possibilities.
“For those not yet touched by the recovery, do not despair,” he said. “The ship has been turned. It’s moving in the right direction, and we’re going to get everyone safely on board. That’s our promise. That’s our commitment to you.
“In the coming weeks, the opposition will try to convince you that the choice is between us and them. But the real choice in this election is much simpler… and much more important.
“Will Bermuda move forward… or back? Forward with our ‘safe hands’ management of the economy, or back to the reckless conduct of the past. Forward with our work to make Bermuda more open, transparent and accountable or back to governance that put personal interest before public interest. Forward with concrete progress or back to empty promises and rhetoric.
“There remains much to do, but I want to assure the people of Bermuda that we will continue to do our best to improve your life and the life of the country.”
The Premier noted that his party’s election manifesto”is to be brought out in a couple of weeks’ time”. He also promised to return to the House on July 20, “to continue legislative work” if the OBA wins the election on July 18.
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