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Cablegate: United Bermuda Party Reelects Kim Swan As Opposition Leader

VZCZCXRO2440
RR RUEHHT
DE RUEHHT #0130/01 3101941
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061941Z NOV 09 ZFF4
FM AMCONSUL HAMILTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3915
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0897
RUEHHT/AMCONSUL HAMILTON 2092

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAMILTON 000130

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/WE (JOHN MARBURG AND NIMA ABBASZADEH);
STATE FOR EUR/PPD (LEE MCMANIS AND ALISANDE PIPKIN);
LONDON (ROB HUBER)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV BD
SUBJECT: UNITED BERMUDA PARTY REELECTS KIM SWAN AS OPPOSITION LEADER
AS NEW THIRD PARTY OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES

REF: HAMILTON 103

HAMILTON 00000130 001.7 OF 002


Summary

1. (U) After months of heightened internal dissension, the
beleaguered opposition United Bermuda Party (UBP) came together
on November 5 to reelect Kim Swan as Opposition Leader, just in
time for the reconvening of Parliament on November 6. UBP
members had criticized Swan for being too slow to bring about
change in the party that has lost every election since 1998.
After amending the party's constitution to open up the
leadership election process, Swan delivered his vision for
reform to the 70+ member Central Committee, but publicly he
stresses that the party must work to become a cohesive unit.
Meanwhile, UBP defectors chose the same day to launch a third
party, the Bermuda Democratic Alliance (BDA). End summary.

UBP Unites Behind Leader Kim Swan, Strives to Reconnect with the
People

2. (U) On November 5, the opposition United Bermuda Party
(UBP) reelected Kim Swan as leader in an attempt to resurrect a
party that has been hemorrhaging members and support since its
first loss at the polls in 1998. Having lost three successive
elections since then, the UBP has experienced growing internal
agitation for change. It came to a head on September 14 when
two sitting members of parliament and one senator, frustrated by
the seeming inability of the party to rebrand itself, resigned
from the UBP to establish a third party. (See REFTEL.) The
defection led Swan to initiate amendments to the party's
constitution to open up the leadership selection process with
the aim of broadening participation and building party unity.
The party's Central Council, composed of more than seventy
members, made its choice for leader via secret ballot between
former opposition leader Swan (who had resigned in advance of
the election) and E. T. (Bob) Richards, Shadow Minister of
Finance, after each presented his vision to move the party
forward. Swan said after the vote, "The first thing we must do
is build a cohesive unit, with the parliamentary group
contacting with the branches. We certainly have to consolidate
our base. The most important thing for the nine MPs is to show
the people that we are working together and start getting on
with the people's business. We have to multi-task." Challenger
Richards vowed to work with Swan, adding that "~the whole
exercise has been a real galvanizing effort for our party~.Now
the work begins, together."

Competing Third Political Party Launched

3. (U) Competing for the limelight, the UBP's September
defectors unveiled their new political party, the Bermuda
Democratic Alliance (BDA) - also the acronym for Bermuda - on
the same day as the UBP reelected Kim Swan. The BDA will not
announce a leader or ratify a constitution until the New Year,
after a series of town hall meetings and constituency
get-togethers. Meanwhile, its two MPs will sit in Parliament.
A spokesman for the new 45-member third party claimed that the
BDA is "representative of the spectrum of Bermuda racially,
economically and professionally. That's what's most exciting."
It cited as its core values: broad participation by all
Bermudians; a modern justice system; a society that celebrates
inclusion, diversity, equal opportunity and human rights;
government that is fair, transparent and fiscally responsible;
government that will protect Bermuda's assets for the future; an
improved education system; and political leadership that acts
for the greater good of Bermuda both locally and abroad.

Comment

4. (SBU) The reelection of Kim Swan as party leader does
not mean the end of the UBP's political problems. Swan has much
work to do to heal intraparty divisions. He will have to make
meaningful changes quickly while altering the perception of the
UBP as a "white party" if he hopes to draw support away from the

HAMILTON 00000130 002.7 OF 002


ruling Progressive Labor Party (PLP). The formation of the BDA,
which will work towards being more broadly representative of the
voters than either the UBP or the PLP, adds to the UBP's
challenges. Without even an announced leader or constitution, it
is too soon to tell whether the BDA will be able to garner
enough support to be viable.SHELTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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