The Progressive Labour Party has won a third straight general election.

In the biggest shock of the evening so far UBP leader Michael Dunkley lost Smith's North to incumbent Patrice Minors. Mr. Dunkley had 444 votes to Ms. Minors 536.

Premier Brown was returned in Warwick South Central convincingly beating back a challenge by Roderick Simons 562 to 252.

The party went to the polls today supremely confident that voters would endorse it, along with party leader Ewart Brown, whose uncompromising style became the main target of the opposition United Bermuda Party's campaign.

Polls conducted for this newspaper put the parties neck and neck among decided voters, but those who hadn't decided said they were leaning towards the PLP.

The triumph follows wins in 1998 and 2003 and leaves the UBP with another possible five years in the wilderness. Prior to 1998, the UBP had held power for 30 consecutive years.

It was the island's longest ever election campaign, just over six weeks - and the nastiest.

The PLP argued the UBP lacked the moral authority to run the country, while the UBP stuck with its line that Dr. Brown couldn't be trusted. The low point came when someone tried to mail a bullet to Dr. Brown's house, which was intercepted by a postal worker.

Both sides attempted to calm the mood after that.

On Sunday, Dr. Brown, in a pre-election TV address, urged the country to pull together regardless of tonight's result.

He said: "A unified Bermuda is more important than Ewart Brown, or Michael Dunkley, or the PLP, or the UBP.

"Whatever happens on Tuesday morning, we must all wake up on Wednesday morning and be Bermudians - Bermudians dedicated to putting this election campaign behind us, and forging full-steam ahead, united in our effort to make our island paradise a better place for everyone."

He continued: "We must recover quickly from the wounds of negative rhetoric and division and awaken to the promise of wholesome action in a patriotic, indivisible union - for the sake of our children, our elders, our selves, our posterity."

Full story to follow.

For comprehensive election coverage see tomorrow's Bermuda Sun.