In 1973, subsequent to beginning his law practice, Perry Christie was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas. In November 1974, Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling appointed him to the Senate where he served until 1977. (Christie is believed to be the youngest Bahamian ever to be appointed to the Senate.) In January 1977, he gave up his Senate seat when he was appointed chairman of the Gaming Board, which regulates casinos in the Bahamas. Also in 1977 he received the PLP nomination for the seat in Parliament representing Centerville. He was elected, and won reelection in five subsequent general elections (1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, and 2002). He was appointed Minister of Health and National Insurance after the 1977 election, serving until 1982.
In 1982 he was appointed Minister of Tourism, a post he held until 1984. The PLP and Prime Minister Pindling were increasingly subjected to detailed accusations of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking. Pindling repeatedly and vehemently denied all accusations. In 1984 Christie resigned from Pindling's cabinet to protest the alleged corruption related to drug trafficking in the PLP. He vowed never to return to the PLP. However, he ran and won in the Centerville constituency as an independent. Furthermore, he earned the nickname "Vomit," when he promised "For the people's love, I will swim in the vomit" of the party. Hubert Ingraham of the FNM also resigned in protest against Pindling in 1984.
In March 1990, Christie returned to the PLP and was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, serving until 1992. In the August 1992 general election, the PLP was defeated by the FNM. Following this defeat in January 1993, Christie was elected as co-deputy leader of the PLP with responsibilities for party activities outside Parliament. On 5 April 1997, following the resignation of Sir Lynden Pindling (who had led the PLP since 1956), Christie was elected the leader of the PLP at a special convention. Victorious in the general election in the newly created Farm Road constituency, he was appointed Leader of the Opposition on 4 April 1997 by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
In the general election of 2 May 2002, the PLP triumphed over the FNM winning 29 of 40 parliamentary seats in the largest landslide election the Bahamas had ever seen. On 3 May 2002, Christie was sworn in as the third prime minister of an independent Bahamas. Upon taking office, Christie declared that his victory "belong[ed] to the people."