Worries Over Graft and Chinese Investment Shaped Voting in the Bahamas

Worries Over Graft and Chinese Investment Shaped Voting in the Bahamas
Outgoing Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie at the Caribbean Energy Security Summit, Washington, Jan. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

On May 11, Hubert Minnis, a physician and former health minister, was sworn in as prime minister of the Bahamas, having led his Free National Movement political party to victory in the May 10 general election. He replaces Perry Christie, who had served for two nonconsecutive terms. In an email interview, Larry Smith, a columnist for The Nassau Tribune who operates the Bahama Pundit blog, describes the issues that animated the campaign as well as the challenges Minnis faces now that he’s in office.

WPR: What were the main issues of the campaign, and how did Hubert Minnis’s message compare with that of Perry Christie?

Larry Smith: A no-growth economy, the rising murder rate, environmental disasters and a government perceived as unaccountable were the top issues of the campaign. Despite collecting $1 billion dollars in extra taxes over the past two years, the government’s deficit continued to grow while job creation was almost non-existent, and people did not feel their lives were improving. Minnis, the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), is a physician who entered politics in 2007. He sought to portray himself as a nonpolitician who would promote transparency in public life and reverse the decline in living standards for the average Bahamian. His slogan was “It’s the People’s Time.”

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