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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
according to Stephen Aranha from the College of the Bahamas School of Social Sciences, the PLP only won 48.7% of the vote
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.”
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.
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 (
), accountability, dialogue and (a productive) cynicism is defining [a] new era of Bahamian political consciousness.”
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
failure to double edu investment
cable and wireless under fire
row over laing’s salary
UR employees lose jobs
policy and planning unit
FNM blasts BTC talks
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
and the Tribune
. You can reach him at