Bahamas Political Party History

For decades, the white-dominated United Bahamian Party (UBP) ruled The Bahamas, then a dependency of the United Kingdom, while a group of influential white merchants, known as the “Bay Street Boys,” dominated the local economy.

In 1953, Bahamians dissatisfied with UBP rule formed the opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). Under the leadership of Lynden Pindling, the PLP won control of the government in 1967 and led The Bahamas to full independence in 1973. Pindling is credited in spurring the development of international banking and investment management as a major industry and most importantly for fighting for equal rights for all Bahamians.

In 1971, dissatisfied with the PLP party a coalition of PLP members and former UBP members formed the Free National Movement (FNM).

In the 1980s, Pindling and members of his party were accused of corruption and accepting bribes from drug traffickers. Those allegations and a depressed economy (caused by his government’s xenophobic policies towards foreigners–the lifeblood of the country’s economy) contributed to his party’s defeat in 1992 by the Free National Movement (FNM) which promised freer markets and less government intervention in personal affairs.

Former PLP cabinet minister and member of parliament Hubert Ingraham became leader of the FNM in 1990.

Under Ingraham’s leadership, and the Bahamian people’s dissatisfaction with the PLP’s ruining of the Bahamian economy, the FNM won control of the government from the PLP in the August 1992 general elections. Winning again in March 1997, the ruling FNM controlled 35 seats in the House of Assembly, while the PLP controls four seats and serves as the official opposition.

The principal focus of the then Ingraham administration has been economic development and job creation. Many of his government’s policies are aimed at improving the image of The Bahamas and making it an attractive place for foreigners to invest by adopting more free-market oriented policies, operating under a rule of law.

Other challenges are to privatize The Bahamas’ costly, inefficient national corporations, such as the Batelco the state’s inefficient, overpriced (by several 100%) phone company, provide job retraining for hundreds of workers who will be affected by the change, and to continue creating jobs for new entries in the employment market.

In May 2002, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), led by veteran politician Perry Christie, was returned to office, replacing the Free National Movement (FNM), which had run the government for the past decade.

The FNM, led by Senator Tommy Turnquest after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham voluntarily relinquished control of the party, was beaten badly and is in some disarray. In 2006, the PLP holds 29 seats in the 40-member House of Assembly, while the FNM holds 7 and the remaining 4 are controlled by independents. The PLP government will not have to call new elections until 2007, which are held every 5 years.