The Free National Movement (FNM) is a socially liberal and economically conservative political party in The Bahamas. The leader of the party is Dr. Hubert Minnis and his deputy is Loretta Butler-Turner. It is the largest opposition party in the Bahamas and, after the general election held on 7 May, 2012, held 9 of the 38 seats in the Bahamas House of Assembly. The FNM lies on the right of the Bahamian political spectrum.
The FNM, led into the 2012 election by its then-leader Hubert Ingraham, won 42.1 percent of the vote, compared to 48.7 percent by the Progressive Liberal Party, which won 29 seats and thus the government. Ingraham consequently resigned, both as party leader as well as a Member of Parliament. The FNM also lost the by-election in Ingraham's constituency of North Abaco on 15 October, 2012, and now only holds 8 of the 38 seats in the House of Assembly.
The FNM was established at Jimmy Shepherd’s house on Spring Hills Farms in Fox Hill in 1971. The Free-PLP were a breakaway group of eight MPs from the then governing Progressive Liberal Party. This group, which was known as the "Dissident Eight," included Cecil Wallace- Whitfield, Arthur Foulkes, Warren J. Levarity, Maurice Moore, Dr. Curtis McMillan, James (Jimmy) Shepherd, Dr. Elwood Donaldson and George Thompson. Following meetings held at Spring Hill Farms, the FNM officially became a political party in October of 1971, with Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, a charismatic and skillful political operative, as its leader.
The other group, the UBP, was one of the main political parties in the Bahamas and had governed the country since the advent of party politics in 1958, until it lost the 1967 general election by a paper thin margin to the Opposition PLP.
The UBP party's leadership was almost all white in a country where blacks made up 85 percent of the population. Once out of power its leaders decided that the party's time was at an end and they looked to the Free-PLP to form a new party that would follow a socially liberal and economically conservative line. The new party was called the Free National Movement.
The party grew quickly and built a strong and loyal base. However, these were heady days for the governing PLP, who led the country to independence in 1973, and the FNM failed to gain much more than 40% of the vote in a string of general elections defeats.
In 1990, Hubert Ingraham took over the leadership of the party after the death of Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield. The FNM attacked the governing PLP on corruption charges and published a Manifesto.
In the General Election of 1992, the FNM defeated its rival, the PLP, by a wide margin, taking 32 of the then 49 seats. The FNM Government privatized the government-owned hotels, which had fallen into decline since nationalization. Private radio stations were allowed to operate, ending the government's broadcast monopoly. The FNM also introduced local government and encouraged inward investment to grow the economy. The elections of 1997 saw the FNM re-elected in a landslide, with 35 of the 40 seats in a reduced House.
After Ingraham vowed not to seek a 3rd term in office, The party lost the 2002 elections, under the leadership of Tommy Turnquest. Many voters, including FNM supporters felt that Turnquest was much "weaker" than Perry G. Christie leader of the PLP opposition party. After 10 years as leader of the opposition, Christie won the argument that the FNM was a "one man" show and it was time for "true visionary leadership".
In the FNM's party convention the following the general elections of 2002, Ingraham was returned to the post of leader. He then led the FNM party in the 2007 general election where the Free National Movement emerged victorious with a total of 23 of the 41 seats and formed a new government, with Ingraham as Prime Minister again.
Prime Minister Ingraham although criticized for his "one man" leadership style has paradoxically been praised for his decisive, hard talk, no nonsense approach to governing the country.
Ingraham prides himself on being a tried, tested, and proven leader. He also prides himself on his record as having delivered on his promise of creating consistent economic growth and a vibrant middle class in The Bahamas during his first 2 terms in office 1992–2002 due to his governments sound fiscal and social policies. This is Ingraham's 3rd non-consecutive term as Prime Minister.
The party lost government to the Progressive Liberal Party once again in the 2012 general elections. Outgoing Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced his retirement from politics following the defeat.