NASSAU, Bahamas, May 7 (UPI) -- A close race between the ruling party and opposition was expected Monday in a national election in the Bahamas, observers said.
The Miami Herald reported about 172,130 voters were expected as 133 candidates vied for 38 House of Assembly seats and the winning party will form the next government.
Violent crime and high unemployment have hurt Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and his ruling Free National Movement government, the Herald said.
Prime Minister Perry Christie and his Progressive Liberal Party lost in its re-election bid in 2007 amid a scandal involving the late Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith. Her death in a South Florida hotel room that year raised questions about her relationship with Christie's immigration minister at the time and brought attention to government scandals in the Bahamas.
Critics, the Herald said, say Christie has failed to redefine his party since it lost the election.
The Democratic National Alliance, a third party, is also running in this race.
"The question is will that third party hurt the FNM or the PLP more?" said Stephen Aranha, an assistant professor at the College of the Bahamas in Nassau.
The Herald said both parties expressed confidence in their victory and each accuses the other of vote-buying.