01 February 2017

(Bermuda) Tensions could rise to ‘explosive’ levels

Tim Smith, News Editor

You thought the past few months were tense? Wait until you see what 2017 brings.

With frustration among the poorest section of society showing no signs of easing, it will not take much, according to some, to trigger more of the public flashpoints that Bermuda has frequently witnessed in recent times.

The bad news for anyone hoping Bermuda can calmly navigate its way through a General Election year, political commentator Phil Perinchief believes, is that the parties themselves will not be afraid to light the blue touchpaper.

Continued social and economic disparities along racial grounds, and discontent with the performance of the One Bermuda Alliance and Progressive Labour Party set the stage for a difficult year ahead, Mr Perinchief says.

An eagerness by both parties to manipulate power, as well as the ability to spread false truths through social media, means tensions could reach even greater heights than previous Bermuda election campaigns.

Mr Perinchief, a former PLP and Independent candidate, and former United Bermuda Party and Independent candidate David Sullivan shared their thoughts with The Royal Gazette as the clock begins to count down towards an election that must happen by May 2018.

“The tensions surrounding the next General Election will run at unprecedented, even potentially explosive, levels,” Mr Perinchief said.

“Both parties have been seduced by the use and manipulation of power for good and otherwise. Both parties have had the political bit in their teeth and they relish the prospect of repeating the experience.”

Over the past two years, hundreds have taken to the streets to protest the OBA’s proposed Pathways to Status legislation, airport redevelopment plan and furlough days for public service workers.

Numbers were significantly down this month when the People’s Campaign tried to rally support for the Reverend Nicholas Tweed’s work permit bid, but are expected to return to previous levels when the House of Assembly tackles the airport project on February 3.