Bermuda black leftists lose vote but show political power

Bermuda voters have turned back a stiff challenge from a largely black, left-leaning political party that promised to loosen the mid-Atlantic island's political ties with Britain and its economic ties with the United States.

But the margin of victory for the moderate United Bermuda Party (UBP) was much narrower than in three previous elections.

"We remain in power by the skin of our teeth," a UBP spokesman said. Prime Minister David Gibbons put it less colorfully: "We have done reasonably well but of course we could have done better."

The UBP took 54 percent of the vote, winning 22 of the island parliament's 40 seats. The remaining 18 went to the Progressive Labour Party (PLP).

The closeness of the vote suggests the PLP's political fortunes are rising and serves as a warning to the UBP that its 12-year tenure and its moderate rule are in jeopardy. Some UBP politicians say the UBP must bring about economic and social improvement for the island's black population, which accounts for two-thirds of the island's 60,000 people, if it hopes to retain power in the future.

The island, a haven for US, Canadian, and British tourists, has been beset with racial unrest in the past decade or so. In 1973, Sir Richard Sharples, the governor of the British colony, was murdered. In 1977, two blacks convicted of the murder were hung, touching off racial demonstrations. British troops were sent to quell the unrest, but anger in parts of the black community went unquenched.

Many Bermudian blacks have argued that there is one justice for whites and another for blacks. This feeling has sparked some of the racial turbulence that on occassion has spilled into the streets of Hamilton, the Island's capital.

Tourist Bermudian blacks have agreen that there is one justice for white and another for blacks. this feeling has sparked some of the racial turbulence that on occasion has spilled into the streets of Hamilton, the island's capital.

Tourists are generally unaware of the unhappiness felt by the island's blacks , and many blacks argue that Bermuda's white-dominated establishment similarly fails to understand the situation. but UBP politicians, both white and black, have been cooperating to bring about social change. It is however, a slow process.

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