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Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Will the New PLP Government Pass Its Upgrade?
By Joseph Gaskins
Jun 29, 2012 - 11:13:08 AM

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Over the last few months I took a much needed hiatus from writing and from observing Bahamian politics. I was drained from all the election hype and I had exams for which I had to prepare.


Yes, Doctorate students have exams as well. In the United Kingdom they are often referred to as “upgrades” -- the hoops candidates jump through to move to the next stage in their research work. For me this meant producing a paper, which I later had to defend in front of a small panel of academics-- a “viva voce”. I happy to say that I’ve passed upgrade and I’m officially considered a second year PhD student.


We are told that the purpose of the upgrade exams is to ensure we’re on the right track. It is essentially a way for the department to asses if we are meeting expectations. After all, accepting us to the PhD program and waiting until we produce the final thesis is far too risky.


What if we spend four years in the program doing whatever we wanted? This could result in an unacceptable final thesis. What if the direction our research takes is unoriginal, untenable, or in my case, un-sociological? The department would’ve wasted its resources and time on a student with nothing to show for it.


It seems to me that the new Progressive Liberal Party government is nearing its own upgrade. As we arrive at the midpoint of its first 100 days in office, Bahamians are beginning to asses a government that was “ready to govern from day one.” Like a PhD a student, the PLP government will have to show that it is in fact meeting expectations -- expectations they have, for the most part, set for themselves.   


When I attempted to sum up what I learned after the 2012 elections I made two points I’d like to revive here. First, despite winning the election, the PLP is a minority government. As I said in the earlier piece, “ according to Stephen Aranha from the College of the Bahamas School of Social Sciences, the PLP only won 48.7% of the vote —less than half of the popular vote. The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) picked up 8.9% of the vote, leaving the FNM with 42.1% of the vote.”


In real terms this could mean that instead of the panel of two academics I had to face at my upgrade, the PLP government will be answering to the 51% of Bahamians who did not vote for them, as well as many of those who found their electoral platform persuasive.


The second point I want to return to highlights something that we have yet to begin to make sense of as a socio-cultural and political phenomenon in the Bahamas. The growing influence of social media will likely exacerbate the coming examination of the government’s performance. What I mean is that, “...transnational conversations facilitated by Twitter involving COB students, academics, journalists and voters of varying demographics, and political satire eliciting a more involved response from the Bahamian voters than party platforms ( here and here ), accountability, dialogue and (a productive) cynicism is defining [a] new era of Bahamian political consciousness.”


This means that not only does this lowly, barefoot, red Bahamian boy and his musing get more “airtime” than he ever would’ve five years ago, it also means that any of the 51% of people that voted against the PLP government with enough Facebook friends or Twitter followers can have a measured impact.


Rodney Moncur aside, given the general ineptitude Bahamian parties and politicians displayed on social media during elections, the influence of political elites in this arena is limited.


I won’t sit here and aid the opposition in continuing to propagate the narrative of the PLP as a “do-nothing party.” In my opinion both parties have failed to do some important things. Creating a long term economic plan for the Bahamas, like D. Geraldo Fraser points out here , is clear example of this. I’m sure when it comes to the problematic road project, some Nassuvian business owners wish the previous FNM government did less.


What I’ve learned in my short 26 years of existence is that the key to managing expectations is to be careful about what you promise, and that when you do make a promise, to be clear about how you intend to fulfill it.


During election season, reckless promises and a lack of detail is common. However, the PLP has made it easy for the FNM to point out that, contrary to promises, spending on education has not been doubled in the new budget and it seems as if promises to implement National Health Insurance are faltering . I won’t speak for the Bahamian people, but I will say that I want details. These things were promised, when can we expect them?


Oh...and I won’t be distracted by minor scandals like former Minister Laing’s salary or the continued saber rattling concerning Cable and Wireless . Whatever the situation with Laing’s payment, and although BTC can’t seem to keep the phones working, I think we have bigger fish to fry right now. The PLP did a fantastic job pointing out that crime and the economy are major priorities. What are our next steps and somebody please tell me what’s going on with Urban Renewal 2.0 ?


We should all be counting on the success of the PLP government. These next five years cannot be a waste of resources or time for the Bahamian people. As a nation, we also cannot wait to asses the performance of the government at the end of its term. Like allowing a PhD student to go off researching whatever he or she wants, it’s far too risky.


Whether the PLP government realized it or not, they built in their own upgrade examination. The question is whether they can shake the negativity that scarred their last attempt at governance and realize the change they so convincingly promised. Many of us are watching the 100 day mark closely and at the midpoint doubts seem to be mounting.


FNM statement http://www.thebahamasweekly. com/publish/bahamian-politics/ FNM_Leader_PM_Christie_Fail_A_ Second_Time22675.shtml?utm_ source=twitterfeed&utm_medium= twitter


failure to double edu investment http://www.thenassauguardian. com/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=31829: bannister-plp-failed-to- double-investment-in- education&catid=3:news&Itemid= 27


cable and wireless under fire http://www.thenassauguardian. com/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=31834: cable-and-wireless-under-fire- in-senate&catid=3:news&Itemid= 27


row over laing’s salary http://www.thenassauguardian. com/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=31936: former-ministers-salary-row- continues-in-senate&catid=3: news&Itemid=27


UR employees lose jobs http://www.thenassauguardian. com/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=31942: more-urban-renewal-workers-to- reportedly-lose-jobs&catid=3: news&Itemid=27


policy and planning unit http://www.thenassauguardian. com/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=31956: policy-and-planning-unit-was- created-to-address-various- road-user-issues-says- minister&catid=3:news&Itemid= 27


FNM blasts BTC talks http://www.thenassauguardian. com/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=31964: fnm-chairman-blasts-plp-over- btc-talks&catid=3:news&Itemid= 27

Joey Gaskins is a graduate of Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY with a BA in Politics. He was born in Grand Bahama Island and is currently studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where he has attained his MSc in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies and has begun a Doctoral Degree in Sociology. Joey also writes for  the Nassau  Liberal  
www. nassauliberal. webs.com  and the Tribune . You can reach him at  j.gaskins@lse.ac.uk


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