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Ruling party wins general election

The ruling party on the wealthy, North Atlantic island of Bermuda won victory and a third straight term in office on Tuesday after a knife-edge election on the British territory.

world Updated: Dec 19, 2007 09:13 IST
Matthew Bigg

The ruling party on the wealthy, North Atlantic island of Bermuda won victory and a third straight term in office on Tuesday after a knife-edge election on the British territory.

The Progressive Labour Party of Prime Minister Ewart Brown won at least 21 seats in the 36 seat parliament, according to an official Web site, defeating the opposition United Bermuda Party.

"I am clearly delighted. The candidates have worked hard and come home with the victory and I am just so proud of them," Ewart said in a television interview.

In a further blow to the opposition, its leader Michael Dunkley failed by 92 votes to defeat incumbent Patrice Minors in the Smith's North constituency.

Analysts said the election on Britain's oldest and most populous remaining colony was partly a referendum on Brown's performance since he took office in October 2006.

It was also a test of popularity of the ruling party's plan to deal with health care for the elderly and the status of long-term foreign residents.

The island, around 620 miles (1,000 km) east of the U.S. state of North Carolina, enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, based on a booming reinsurance industry and tourism, as well as near-zero unemployment and low crime.

But the opposition accused Brown of corruption and said his PLP had failed since it took power in 1998 to create more affordable housing in a place with some of the world's most expensive rents.

Dunkley said he did not regret his decision to give up his own relatively safe constituency to fight for the Smith's North seat, arguing that the opposition needed to overcome a 22-14 deficit in parliament.

"Obviously very disappointed," Dunkley said in a television interview. "We thought we had fought a good campaign. We thought we had the possibility to win it."

Polls closed at 8 p.m. AST (0000 GMT) after a day in which a steady stream of voters cast their ballots on the island, which has about 66,000 residents. With constituencies averaging just 1,100 each, many MPs defended razor-thin majorities.