Bermuda’s Governor John Rankin officially dissolved the Legislature as of 5pm on Friday, paving the way for a General Election to be held on October 1 placing political necks on the line.
How it will all play out – time will tell. But already political pundits are saying the Progressive Labour Party will lose at least five, maybe even six seats. No one is predicting a loss for the PLP but they say it won’t be another landslide victory and a few heads will roll. More on that story in subsequent reports.
By calling a snap election, Premier David Burt said it all comes down to making “an important economic choice” when Bermudians go to the polls.
“The prospect of a series of bye-elections does not represent the best use of the public purse at this time but a General Election by which the people of Bermuda will safely cast their votes will allow us as a community to devote our efforts to the rebuilding of our economy and the creation of greater opportunity for Bermudians who have shown strength and commitment to each other during this challenging period,” he said.
“Do we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on three, four, five or more by-elections and then have to pay for a General Election?
“Or, is it more financially prudent to just go ahead and call a General Election and allow those MPs who wish to retire the opportunity to do so?
“I chose the option that saves Bermudian taxpayers money.
“I also thought about the 20 months of bickering that a series of by-elections would bring.
“Instead of subjecting Bermudians to months of division, I found it prudent to call a General Election that would allow the Government chosen by the people to focus squarely on our economic recovery and make tough choices.
“I chose to get on with it.
“The truth is, tough times lie ahead, and the Government needs the backing of the people to make the hard decisions today that will benefit all Bermudians in the long run,” said Mr Burt.
“On October 1, Bermudians will choose who they want to lead us through these trying times and the economic recovery.
“We ably led us through to the new normal and now we seek your support to rebuild the economy in a way that works for all Bermudians, and not just the rich and powerful who have always had it all,” he added.
“Bermuda and the world have changed since the last election. These times require capable, steady and proven leadership — leadership that cares for Bermudians, is focused on ably managing the coronavirus and our economic recovery, providing affordable healthcare, and phasing out middle schools.
“We need strong leadership, solid plans for the future, and vision to see us through to better times.
“It is in difficult times like these that we ask for your support, because we are working to keep our promises and we are working every day to put Bermudians like you first.”
The deadline to register to vote is August 29 and that nomination day will be on September 10.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier said a General Election was not needed at this point in time as he called on the Government to “fix the economy”.
“After complaining about spending $30,000 on a by-election, the Premier now wants to spend over $1 million on a General Election.
“We are wasting $1 million just as the Premier has asked hard working civil servants to take a pay cut and is threatening to make enforced cuts on workers who served this country on the COVID frontline.
“The number of active cases of Covid is now in double digits — the pandemic is not over.
“It seems the Premier is prepared to jeopardise people’s health by holding a General Election just so that he can deflect from an economy that is dying on its feet.
“This is not a man who cares about the people. This is not necessary now. With more than two years left before an election has to be called and a 25:11 majority — do the job you are meant to do, fix the economy.
“This serves no one’s benefit but the Premier’s.
“This is a man, who by his actions, has demonstrated that he is simply self-serving.”
Responding to the Opposition Leader’s claims, a PLP spokesman said: “As a country we would have had to have a general election in a handful of months.
“With Mr Cannonier’s announcement of multiple retirements from his party, we could either pay for three, four or five by-elections and a general election soon after, or we pay for a general election.
“The latter is what saves the Bermudian taxpayer money.
“It also saves Bermudians from bickering. We can have by-election after by-election and then a general election, or we can just get on with it and have a General Election.”