HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — Voters have ousted the political party that has ruled the wealthy British territory of Bermuda for 16 years, according to preliminary general election results early Tuesday.
Bermuda Premier Paula Cox's Progressive Labor Party was defeated by the One Bermuda Alliance, which was founded following the 2007 elections and will rule the territory for the first time.
Cox also lost her seat in the House of Assembly, where the One Bermuda Alliance claimed 19 of 36 seats for a two-seat majority.
Cox said she believed the island's struggling economy led to her party's downfall, though candidates from her party pledged to alleviate the economic crisis and reduce a 10 percent unemployment rate while touting the government's health care plans and free daycare.
"What we've got to accept is the economy was a key factor, and there's nothing we can do in terms of a magic bullet or a magic wand to make it immediately go right," she said. "The people have decided that they want to pause, and we acknowledge that and appreciate it."
Opposition leader Craig Cannonier has vowed to create 2,000 jobs in the next five years and generate more revenue while reducing debt. He had accused Cox's administration of mismanaging the economy, saying it led to increased unemployment and crime.
"It's a new Bermuda and a new day in politics," Cannonier said at a celebration rally. "A new standard has been set."
One Bermuda Alliance received 15,949 votes, while the Progressive Labor Party received 14,218 votes, according to preliminary results. Independent candidates won 695 votes, according to the local elections commission.
There are 43,767 registered voters in the tiny territory of nearly 70,000 inhabitants, which has long served as a global financial center for the insurance and reinsurance sectors and various investment funds.