When the Bahamas became independent in 1973,
the left liberal PLP dominated the political scene. It
was not until 1992 that the right-wing FNM won a choice.
The country's economic development has been positive,
although it is partly hampered by corruption. The
Bahamas is also tamped with demands from the outside
world for greater transparency in the financial sector
and for measures to combat drug smuggling.
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Prime
Minister Lynden Pindling ruled the Bahamas since 1967
and at the time of independence sat securely in the
saddle. In the 1970s and 1980s, uninterrupted economic
growth continued since the end of the Second World War.
But politically, the period was dominated by problems
with corruption and drug smuggling.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Bahamas. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
Pindling was gradually pushed by the United States to
investigate allegations that he and his ministers were
involved in drug dealing. Pindling appointed an inquiry,
which in 1984 identified several ministers as guilty.
There was no evidence against Pindling himself.
Americans were not happy, and relations with the United
States were strained during the latter part of the
1980s. The Bahamas was also accused of allowing
criminals to launder money in tax havens' banks.
Pindling gradually allowed the United States to
intervene in drug trafficking in Bahamian territory.
Arms and drug trafficking
The PLP went on to win the parliamentary elections
but the scandals hurt Pindling and the party. As the
economy declined in the early 1990s, the outlook for the
opposition further improved. In the 1992 elections, for
the first time, the Free National Movement (FNM) and its
leader Hubert Ingraham won the government.
In 1995, a commission revealed irregularities and
neglect in three state-owned companies. The hard work
against corruption and a few years of economic upturn
paid dividends in the 1997 elections, when FNM again
won. After the second election loss, Lynden Pindling
left the post as PLP leader after 32 years.
The FNM government tried to fight the growing crime,
often linked to arms and drug trafficking, including
tightened gun laws. After twelve years without any death
penalty, five were sentenced to death at the end of the
1990s. However, the number of serious crimes continued
In 2000, the Bahamas was put on lists of tax havens
and countries where money laundering occurs, by the
international bodies OECD and FATF. The Bahamas were
removed from the lists the following year, since the
government tightened the rules for the banks.
PLP regains power
PLP's new leader, lawyer Perry Christie, accused the
government of having regulated the financial sector too
hard, which he claimed had given the Bahamas
disadvantages compared to other tax havens. In the
parliamentary elections held in 2002, the PLP won by a
good margin and the party regained power. Christie
became new prime minister.
Prior to the next election, in 2007, PLP highlighted
how the country's economy had flourished during the term
of office. The FNM sought to make the election a "moral
issue" when a series of scandals lay the ruling party in
the barrel. One was the American model Anna Nicole
Smith's alleged priority in the immigration queue. Smith
owned a home in the Bahamas and lived there for a few
months until his death from an overdose, in February
2007. The country's migration minister was forced to
resign following the charges.
FNM won the election held in May and Hubert Ingraham
returned as prime minister. He promised to address the
country's two major political challenges: illegal
immigration and crime.
The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008
brought Bahamas declining tourism revenue the following
year, but the economy soon recovered, although growth
Increased murder rate
A decision to sell a majority stake of state
telecommunications company BTC to a private company led
to violent demonstrations in the winter of 2010–2011,
and clashes occurred between protesting union members
and the police. The Supreme Court rejected a protest
against privatization and Parliament approved it. The
government argued that sales were necessary for Bahamas
An alarming increase in the number of murders in 2010
led to the formation of a new police force and a special
court to set up cases where firearms were used. Despite
this, the number of murders continued to increase in the
years that followed.
The escalating violent crime was used as a baton for
the 2012 election, in which the PLP accused the FNM
government of not acting sufficiently forcefully. The
election resulted in a clear victory for the PLP, which
nearly tripled its representation in parliament. FNM
lost over half of its mandate. PLP leader Perry Christie
returned as head of government and appointed himself
Finance Minister as well.
FNM leader Ingraham resigned after the election as
party leader and also left his seat in parliament.
Therefore, a filling election was held in October which
was also won by PLP. Hubert Minnis was elected new FNM
A proposal to legalize online gambling with money, in
the Bahamas called "web shops", and to create a national
lottery was rejected in a 2013 referendum. Although the
online games were illegal, they were common. The
government, which hoped to collect tax money, stated
after the vote that it was only advisory, and the
following year it was still decided on licenses for a
limited number of web shops, while at the same time
expanding the gaming business at the hotel's casinos.
PLP, which made the choice to re-nationalize the
telecom company BTC, started negotiations with the
buyer, the British company CWC, to buy back a majority
share in the company. The British were initially
reluctant, but in 2014 the state resumed ownership of a
share that made it formally a majority shareholder, even
though the CWC retained the majority.