NASSAU, Bahamas, May 7, CMC – Long lines were already being formed as Bahamians began casting their ballots for a new government on Monday with Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham seeking another five-year term while his main challenger, Perry Christie, urging supporters to ensure an overwhelming victory for his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
Political observers say the race is a straight fight between the ruling Free National Movement (FNM) and the PLP even though the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), which is promising to shake the establishment, is in the race for control of the 38 seats in Parliament.
A total 133 candidates are facing the electorate of 172,130 people in this archipelago. Polling stations open at 8.00 am and close at 6.00 pm (local time).
The poll is being observed by teams from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United States.
Nearly a week ago, several overseas Bahamians participated in the “Advance Poll” system that for the first time allowed private citizens who are unable to vote on Monday to cast absentee ballots.
Electoral officials said that 7,865 voters were eligible to vote under the new system with voting taking place at several locations including Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
In the last general election when 41 seats were at stake, the FNM won 23 seats capturing 49.2 per cent of the popular vote as against 46.9 per cent for the PLP that won 18 seats.
In a national broadcast on Sunday night, Ingraham told voters that they will vote in a “free, democratic and fair election” acknowledging that “the last five years have not been easy.
“Our Bahamas is an archipelago of opportunity and possibilities. We have a proud democratic heritage which will be on display tomorrow as the world marks the manner of our bearing. Let us conduct ourselves peacefully, with dignity, with mutual respect.
“At the end of the day, and of the many days thereafter, we remain one people, united in love and service.
So, let us, in one accord, continue to face the challenges of today and seize the promises of tomorrow, as we steer The Bahamas we love,” he added.