Premier Paula Cox has lost her Devonshire North West parliamentary seat to political newcomer Glen Smith in what could be considered one of the most dramatic upsets in Bermuda party politics since 1968.
She is the first sitting Premier to be defeated since the introduction of the Westminster-style political system to Bermuda more than 40 years ago and only the third major party leader to lose her parliamentary seat at a general election.
Earlier this evening [Dec. 17] Ms Cox conceded defeat and congratulated her One Bermuda Alliance opponent on running a solid campaign.
Mr. Smith polled 407 votes compared to Ms Cox’s 377. Technically, Deputy Premier Derek Burgess – who was re-elected in his Hamilton Parish constituency – automatically succeeds her as the new leader of the Progressive Labour Party.
Ms Cox won Devonshire North West with a lopsided 70 per cent of the vote at the last election in 2007. But the constituency’s boundaries were subsequently redrawn. Redistricting resulted in more than 200 former Devonshire South Central voters and 353 from Devonshire North Central being included on its electoral rolls today. Devonshire South West is widely considered a One Bermuda Alliance stronghold and the PLP only took Devonshire North Central by a slim margin in 2007.
Every opinion poll released in the run-up to the election listed the economy and jobs as the top priorities of Bermuda’s 43,767 registered voters. Internal polls commissioned by the two major parties reflected the same widespread concern with economic issues. Because Premier Cox also served as the island’s Finance Minister, her role in presiding over Bermuda’s sluggish recovery came into heightened focus throughout the five-week election campaign .
First elected to the House of Assembly in October, 1996 when she won a by-election in the old Devonshire North constituency. Ms Cox has served as Bermuda’s Finance Minister since 2004 when she succeeded her late father, C. Eugene Cox.
She was elected leader of the PLP on October 28, 2010 in a special election held following the resignation Dr. Ewart Brown. She was sworn in as Premier the following day by then Governor Sir Richard Gozney.