TODAY, the Progressive Liberal Party begins its third non-consecutive term as the government of the Bahamas.
The party does so under difficult circumstances and in the face of serious challenges.
And its victory comes at a time when the Bahamian public has proven it is a fickle and impatient master.
This is the third election in a row where the government has changed hands and if the PLP doesn’t want to face the same fate, it will have to live up to its promises.
Party leader Perry Christie, due to be officially named Prime Minister for the second time this afternoon, said in his last address before the election that crime was the number-one issue facing the country.
It seems the majority of voters agree, and the PLP must fulfill their promise to address both the escalation in criminality over the past few years and its roots.
The party has also pledged to create jobs and better protect our borders – two promises that go to the heart of the public’s disgruntlement over the past five years, as the global economic downturn caused a spike in unemployment and heightened concern over illegal immigrants seemingly taking jobs from Bahamians.
The PLP has also promised to make wide-ranging changes to the public school system. The FNM launched a comprehensive audit of the Ministry of Education, aimed at exposing those whose actions had crippled the system and severely hindered the prospects of students over the last 30 years.
If they are to have a hope at reforming public education, the PLP must continue this audit and make the findings public.
And, although they do not mention it in their ‘Charter for Governance’, the PLP must address the legacy which cost them the 2007 election. After five years in office, the first Christie administration was defeated by an FNM campaign that focused on scandals involving PLP MPs and party officials.
Mr Christie must ensure that this history does not repeat itself.
The PLP must also think carefully about promises it made in the heat of the election campaign.
Among these is the promise to reverse the sale of BTC, which would affect foreign investor confidence at a time when the country needs it more than ever.
The new government must also tread carefully in terms of its past links to issues such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the PetroCaribe fuel deal and the search for oil in Bahamian waters.
The PLP is the new government of the Bahamas, with a fresh mandate from the people. Over the next five years it finds itself in the tough position of having to regain its reputation, rather than just maintain it.
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