Defeated: In the biggest shock result of the night, Premier Paula Cox lost her Devonshire North West seat to Glen Smith. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Defeated: In the biggest shock result of the night, Premier Paula Cox lost her Devonshire North West seat to Glen Smith. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

TUESDAY, DEC. 18: Premier Paula Cox last night lost her seat — and conceded defeat to OBA leader Craig Cannonier.

And she said the ailing economy had played a major factor in swinging votes away from the PLP to the OBA.

Ms Cox was speaking outside the PLP’s Court Street HQ after a planned victory party turned into a wake.

She said: “I called the Opposition leader’s office – he was on the podium and I spoke to his deputy… I will go to Government House tomorrow and have a chat with the Governor with regard to the handover of power.

“There is nothing further to say than that.”

Ms Cox thanked voters for turning out and added: “They have spoken and we acknowledge and respect their decision.”

Ms Cox said that “this is a difficult time and they are hurting...”

She added: “The PLP certainly looks at how it can improve and raise the bar and that commitment remains undimmed.”

Ms Cox dismissed suggestions that her personal leadership style and distance from the electorate may have played a part.

She said: “One thing about me is people don’t see me as losing touch – I’m seen as one of the most common in terms of being accessible and reachable.”

Ms Cox also hinted that she would be very unlikely to remain as party leader without a seat in the House of Assembly.

She added: “If the party wishes, they have to choose a party leader. You can’t have a leader ruling by remote.”

Ms Cox said it would be difficult to be a leader “if you don’t have a seat in the House. I don’t think that would be practical.”

But she pledged to continue to work for the PLP.

She added: “My role in working for the party is not about a position. I actually care, I actually care.”

Ms Cox was speaking after the OBA triumphed at the polls — but by a slim two-seat margin, which is enough to form a Government and appoint a Speaker of the House.

Candidates chanted “PLP all the way, all the way PLP” inside the HQ before giving in to the wishes of supporters and appearing on the stage set up in Court Street.

One woman outside Alaska Hall called: “Outside with the people – the guys need to come outside.”

Another supporter wrote an epitaph when she said: “They never had it together, never had it together.”

The defeat ends 14 years of PLP rule and Ms Cox earlier conceded that the economy and recession had played a major part in the loss.

She said: “I think the people have spoken and when the people speak, you have to listen. People are hurting and we have to listen to that.

“We can see there has been a shift away and I think the issue is the economy.

“I don’t think it’s the youth – it’s the fact of the economy and that people are hurting.”

She added: “It was a hard-fought campaign and I acknowledge the success of Mr Smith and I wish him well.”

Ms Cox said: “Bermuda is a very democratic country and there can always be a seamless transition without any confusion.

“What we have to accept is that the economy was a key factor and there is nothing anyone can do in terms of a magic bullet or a magic wand to make it right.”

Ms Cox said her own Devonshire North West seat was identified as a marginal by party pollsters.

She added: “It’s part of leadership — you shouldn’t necessarily have a safe seat and I paid the price not being in a safe seat.”

Ms Cox said: “I think all the candidates did a great job and they worked their butts off. For that I commend them and I’m proud of them.”

Former Health Minister Zane De Silva, who won in Southampton East, said the defeat and the loss of Ms Cox was “shocking”.

But he appeared not to rule out a shot at the leadership and said: “I think that anybody that aims to become a Member of Parliament should have an ambition.”

Former Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert, who kept his Hamilton West seat, added of Ms Cox’s defeat: “I’m surprised. I don’t have any words beyond that. I don’t know what to say. I never thought that was one of the seats we were going to lose. But the people have spoken.”

But he dismissed a run for leadership himself.

Former Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess who kept his Hamilton East seat, stood next to Ms Cox outside Alaska Hall, but declined to comment on the result.