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The Bahamas General Election Results - 14 March 1997

Parliament Building, Aruba

General elections were held in the Bahamas on 14 March 1997 for all 40 seats in the House of Assembly following premature dissolution of this body. Parliament's normal term was due to expire in August 1997, but the House of Assembly was prematurely dissolved on 13 February 1997. Prior to the poll, the number of House seats was reduced from 49 to 40.

Electoral System

Members of the House of Assembly are elected from single-member constituencies using first-past-the-post voting. The majority party then selects the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the Governor-General.

Political Parties

The election was a contest between the two major parties: the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the opposition Free National Movement (FNM).

Background & Campaign

Once again, the main contestants for these seats were the ruling Free National Movement (FNM) of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) of the former Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling, who had led the country to independence in 1973. During the campaign, both men promised a government that would crack down on crime and expand employment opportunities. The FNM pointed to its record since taking the reins of power from the PLP in 1992, saying that it had opened markets, improved the islands' infrastructure, revitalised tourism and created 14,000 new jobs. The PLP, which along with its leader were tarnished by recent allegations of corruption, vowed more State involvement in the economy to fight unemployment. Altogether, 99 candidates (including 40 for each of the chief contenders and 11 independents) were in the running.

Results

On polling day, the conservative FNM swept to a landslide victory, leaving the centrist PLP with only six seats - 10 less than before.

In this context, Ingraham was sworn in as Prime Minister on 18 March and announced that fighting poverty and bad housing, as well as crime, would be priority items during the FNM's second term in office; he also pledged to continue policies of accountability and prudent management. The new Cabinet was named on 18 March.

Voter Turnout

Voter turnout was 93.17%.

ELECTORAL SYSTEM
System First-past-the-post
Elected Members 40 single-member constituencies
VOTER TURNOUT
Total Valid Votes 119,173
Total Invalid Votes 1,900
Total Votes Cast 121,073
Registered Voters 129,946
Voter Turnout 93.17%
   
CRITICAL DATES
Dissolution of House Thu, 13 Feb 1997
Polling Day Fri, 14 Mar 1997
First Meeting of Parliament Wed, 4 Apr 1997
SUMMARY RESULTS
  Party Code Votes Seats
Total % votes Number Change
Free National Movement FNM 68,766 57.70% 34 +1
Progressive Liberal Party PLP 49,932 41.90% 6 -10
Independent Candidates IND 475 0.40% 0 -
  Total Valid Votes   119,173 100% 40 -9
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Key
DNA = Democratic National Alliance; FNM = Free National Movement; PLP = Progressive Liberal Party; IND = Inpendent candidate; * Incumbent; ** Political Leader
Sources
The Bahamas Parliamentary Registration Department
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