Redefining the Possible
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) was established by Branville McCartney and 13 other individuals in 2011. Mr. McCartney had been elected as the Member of Parliament for the Bamboo Town constituency and served as a Minister of State for Tourism as well as Minister of State for Immigration under the Hubert Ingraham-led Free National Movement administration between 2007 to 2011. McCartney resigned as a Cabinet Minister as he was of the view that the FNM administration was not heading in the right direction for the benefit of The Bahamas and by extension, the Bahamian people.
The turning point came in 2011 when then Prime Minister Ingraham tabled a Resolution in the House of Parliament to facilitate the sale of the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation (BTC). At the time, the corporation was 100% owned by the Bahamas Government and by extension, the Bahamian people. It is public knowledge that BTC was one of the most profitable state-owned entities among other Government-owned corporations.
McCartney, on the basis of principle and conviction, decided that he would vote against the sale of BTC as proposed by the Ingraham administration. Subsequently, McCartney resigned as a card-carrying member of the Free National Movement.
March 24 2011
While McCartney had no intentions of starting a political party, there were many calls and meetings with persons encouraging for an alternative to the political status quo, and ideas put forth for a better Bahamas. One day, after many conversations and meetings a colleague of his called him and invited him and his wife to dinner. At the dinner, Reverend Patrick Paul who was accompanied by his wife Charlene Paul urged and encouraged McCartney to start a new political party. The basis of such a bold proposal was the need for a viable and formidable alternative option to the then Free National Movement and Progressive Liberal Party which had both continued to fail the Bahamian people.
Simultaneously, McCartney was encouraged by a group of close friends, family members, colleagues, professionals and businessmen to take the bold step. The journey towards change started with meetings that were regularly held in the boardroom of Halsbury Chambers on Village Road. The founding fourteen members of the DNA who joined at inception included McCartney, his wife Lisa McCartney, his brother Kurt McCartney (deceased), Cyd McCartney Saunders, Emil Saunders, Stephen Jermaine Cancino, Anna Degregory, Colin Degregory, Patrick Paul, Charlene Paul, Mark Humes, Vivia Ferguson and Dr. Johnny Rogers.
The discussions took place over a series of months following McCartney's resignation from the FNM government. Even though during this period overtures were made by members and leaders of the Official Opposition, the PLP, and despite the fact that McCartney engaged in discussions with existing third party options, fate would have it that the DNA was destined to come forth as a formidable alternative in Bahamian politics and what some consider to be the most successful third party in modern Bahamian history.
May 12 2011
On the 12th of May 2011, the DNA was officially launched at the Wyndham Hotel and Resort. The room was filled to capacity and had standing room only. The atmosphere was painted by McCartney's vivid speech encouraging persons to Imagine a Bahamas different from the one they were currently experiencing. Individuals from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds were drawn to the DNA. Even though some assumed that many of the initial DNA followers were mostly former FNM supporters because of McCartney's past political affiliation, in actuality there were former FNM and PLP supporters as well as independent voters who desired positive change for The Bahamas.
The initial leadership team of the DNA comprised of McCartney as Leader, businessman Christopher Mortimer, as Deputy Leader and Educator Mark Humes, Chairman. The inaugural Secretary General and Treasurer were Vivia Ferguson and Anna Degregory respectively. The corporate documents for the newly created political party were prepared by Halsbury Chambers, while Mr. McCartney himself registered the name and symbol of the Democratic National Alliance with the Parliamentary Registry.
Initially, it was intended that a fingerprint (representing the unique DNA of an individual) would be used as the Party's symbol. However, this was rejected by the Parliamentary Registrar. After much deliberation, the founders of the DNA settled on the iconic Lighthouse as the Party's symbol representing a beacon of light and hope.
While the PLP's symbol resembles the okay sign with the pinky, index and middle fingers standing upright and the FNM's hand symbol forming a 'v' with the middle and index fingers standing in an upright position, the DNA opted for a single one finger - the index finger symbolizing the unique nature of one's DNA. This was indeed a fitting compromise for the rejected fingerprint McCartney had initially hoped for. Nevertheless, looking back in hindsight, the one finger is also a fitting representation of One Bahamas and the DNA being the greatest example of this virtue by providing a vehicle for Bahamians from multiple political and socio- economic backgrounds forming a democratic alliance in pursuit of a better Bahamas for Bahamians. This is widely displayed in the most recent leadership structure of the DNA which consists of persons hailing from the PLP, FNM & Independent backgrounds united in the charge to create a new Bahamas.
Although unsuccessful in securing a parliamentary seat in the lower House of Assembly following the 2012 and 2017 general elections but securing a seat in the Upper Chambers as Leader of Opposition in the Senate, the DNA has continued and continues to make history and record successes. The Party ran a full slate of candidates in the 2012 general elections. Additionally, the Party fielded 35 of a possible 39 candidates in the 2017 general elections and fielded 13 female candidates (representing one third of the possible number of seats available in Parliament) more than any other political party in Bahamian history. The Party continues to be the leader in social media ahead of the PLP and FNM and has introduced bold policy initiatives relative to running a 21st Century Bahamas. In its most recent and boldest move, the Party elected its first female leader, being the first major political party in The Bahamas to do so. Members of the DNA and the Bahamas at large witnessed the symbolic passing of the baton from the leadership team of McCartney/Mortimer to Komolafe/Armbrister.
The DNA is poised to continue defying the odds in Bahamian politics and position itself for governance in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Though it took the PLP 13 years from its formation to govern and the FNM 20 years, many in the DNA believe that the third time will be the charm. As a key indicator, the Party has been in existence and made an impact longer than any third party in Bahamian history and unlike other third parties, the DNA has managed to change over leadership in a democratic and stately manner.
The story of the DNA in Bahamian politics is just beginning. The DNA will be around for many years to tell of our journey and conquest to bring about change in our Commonwealth.