Thu | May 13, 2021

Finance minister to lead coalition gov’t following general election

Published:Friday | April 16, 2021 | 12:18 AM


Finance Minister Roy McTaggart is being tipped to lead the new coalition government in this British Overseas Territory after voters on Wednesday re-elected 12 incumbents and seven newcomers including three women to the 19-seat Legislative Assembly.

McTaggart, the leader of the Progressives party that also includes outgoing premier, Alden McLaughlin, is likely to lead the new government after McLaughlin indicated that he was prepared to hand over the government to his former cabinet colleague.

McLaughlin, who faced a tighter-than-expected race in Red Bay against Sammy Jackson, eventually prevailed with 56 per cent of the vote. He later described the poll as one of the hardest elections he had ever fought.

But he said he was happy to step down as premier, acknowledging that it had been a tough last year amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He acknowledged national discontent with the party system and admitted it is getting “harder and harder to win elections”.

A statement issued by the Electoral Office announcing the results of the polls noted that “this election is the first time voters chose who they would like to represent them in Parliament since it changed in 2019 from the Legislative Assembly”.

The elections were originally scheduled for May 26. But McLaughlin had asked Governor Martyn Roper to dissolve Parliament on February 14 and the change was seen by political observers as a move to avoid a no-confidence motion against Speaker McKeeva Bush, who had received a two-month suspended jail sentence in December 2020 for assaulting a woman in February that year.

Bush, a former premier, was among the successful candidates and his conviction appears to have dented his popularity in West Bay. He narrowly retained his seat later admitting it was a “cliffhanger” after his 27-vote win over Mario Ebanks.

McTaggart said he was “overjoyed” with the result and confident of forming a coalition government.

“All of the incumbent Progressives candidates were elected quite resoundingly,” he said, adding “the country was clearly happy with the Progressives and the government we have led.”

McTaggart said he would be reaching out to some of the independents as he seeks to form a government.