Caribbean trade bloc associate member Bermuda could have its third female premier later this month when the outspoken leader of the governing Progressive Labor Party (PLP) steps down as promised, before his current term ends.
Finance Minister Paula Cox has pulled so far away in opinion polls to replace Premier Ewart Brown that she is now being widely regarded as the definite next minister in line to succeed Brown who did his very best while in office to right some of the wrongs Black Bermudans suffered at the hands of Whites in centuries of domination on the mid-Atlantic island.
Bermuda is two hours by air from New York and is located southeast of the American Carolinas.
PLP backbencher Dale Butler and Terry Lister, both former members of cabinet are the other main contenders for the race, set in motion when Brown, 64, announced his intention to demit office earlier this year.
The well-liked Cox, who served as Brown’s deputy for most of this term, has been widely viewed as the heir apparent and is currently favored by 75 percent of the island’s population.
If she wins as expected, she will become the third women head of government after Jennifer Smith of the PLP and Pamela Gordon of the opposition United Bermuda Party (UBP).
Smith was the PLP leader who in 1998 broke 400 years of white rule when the party defeated the UBP, sparking fears today that it will be in opposition for a very long time because of rank discrimination of non-whites in its own ranks and years of political discrimination against Black Bermudans.
Brown who has several times floated and backed away from a concerted push for independence from Britain, says that the failure of successive administrations to persuade islanders to support breaking colonial ties with London remains a major disappointment of his.
“The great work that remains undone is the psychological freedom for independence. The veil of affluence and material comfort has numbed the senses of the people and for that we are all to blame. True self-determination can be achieved and I am as strong a believer in its merits today as I was in the 1960s when our brethren to the south were making the transition.”
In 2006, Brown was accused of leading an internal party revolt that ousted the very soft-spoken Alex Scott as premier. Despite his disarming demeanor, Scott himself had played a major part in cabinet, turning on Jennifer Smith just days after she lad led the PLP to a repeat victory over the UBP in general elections.
Perhaps aware of these developments, Brown has opted to quit before he is pushed. He is not at all favored by White Bermudans who were politically ruffled by his efforts at affirmative action to correct centuries of wrongdoing by Europeans.