THE date has been set.
On November 27, the FNM will hold a one-day convention to determine who will be the leader of the party.
More than that, that person will be the leader of the Opposition – who will lead the challenge to government in Parliament.
That role, held so recently by now Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, is so often underplayed in its importance, but it gives the people of the country a voice in Parliament to call the government to account.
Can it be seen as purely adversarial? Absolutely. But in the ideal world it should serve to point out flaws in legislation or problems that need to be addressed. In short, a strong Opposition can make our government better. Notice that word “can”, whether it does or not depends on who fills the role, and the government’s willingness to listen.
The FNM can do nothing about the latter, so it must do what it can to choose the best person for the job of leader.
There is speculation about the possibility of Dr Hubert Minnis continuing in the role. He has said he will not offer himself directly for the role, but has declined to say whether he would accept a nomination for leader if he were nominated.
Dr Minnis offered himself for leadership as recently as last month – of the nation, rather than the party – and was roundly rejected.
If Dr Minnis wants to continue as leader of the FNM, he will have to do some serious convincing that he can turn around that landslide result.
More than that, had he been elected this time around, this would have been his final term as Prime Minister if he held to his promise of no more than two terms in the post – so his original plan was to be stepping down around the time of the next election anyway, by which time he would be in his 70s.
Any failings that the new PLP government identify with the previous FNM administration will also sit squarely on his shoulders as he tries to stand in Opposition.
Those are the challenges he faces. Other candidates will face their own hurdles to clear, including some who might want the role but who do not have a seat in Parliament.
We wish the convention would arrive sooner – waiting until the end of November is a long time for the FNM to lack a clear direction in Opposition. But a choice has to be made, not just for the sake of the party, but for the country.
We await the party’s decision.