A resilient Kim Swan remains leader of the United Bermuda Party after surviving a challenge from rival Bob Richards last night.

Mr. Swan gave a tub-thumping speech - he later described it as one of the most important of his life - and received the backing of party members in a secret ballot.

It was raining hard outside St. Mary's Church Hall in Warwick but the mood was upbeat as UBP figures emerging from the meeting spoke about a newly-galvanized party.

"Politics is about connecting with people," Mr. Swan said. "That is what I do and that is what we need to do better as a party."

He added that the country now needs to settle down and focus on issues.

Both Mr. Swan and Mr. Richards had been given 15 minutes to outline their agendas before the vote.

Mr. Richards was gracious in defeat and agreed with Mr. Swan and others that that the leadership challenge had helped unify the party. He also intimated that the evening's speeches were key.

"He's an emotional speaker," Mr. Richards said of the party leader, "and maybe that helped. I'm a matter-of-fact kind of guy."

Mr. Swan is the first leader to be ratified under constitutional changes which broaden the voting pool in leadership elections from the nine sitting MPs to the entire party committee of more than 50 members.

Mr. Swan now faces the daunting task of pulling the party back from the brink of extinction.

The UBP is facing challenges from all sides and his re-election came on the day when a group of former members, who defected this summer, officially unveiled their new party - the Bermuda Democratic Alliance.