2019 BVI general election


Country and people interest matters we might give as a reason that we almost lost sight or rather did not post re General elections which were held in the British Virgin Islands Monday, on  February 25, 2019.[1] For the first time, four parties with at least one incumbent member were contesting an election.

Premier Andrew Fahie

The result was a decisive victory for the Virgin Islands Party, which won eight of the 13 elected seats under the leadership of Andrew Fahie. The ruling National Democratic Party won only three seats, with new party leader Myron Walwyn losing his seat.[2]

Seven of the thirteen seats were won by candidates contesting an election for the first time, all for the Virgin Islands Party, a territory record.

In June 2018 the Premier and leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Orlando Smith indicated he would be stepping down and not contesting the next general election.[9] In the subsequent leadership contest the party chose Education Minister Myron Walwyn to lead the party into the next election.[10]

The elections were the first in the British Virgin Islands to use electronically tabulated voting rather that manual counts.[3] Voter turnout was 65.26%.

Election monitors reported that they saw “no real evidence of corruption”, but highlighted a large influx of voter registrations in Districts 5 and 8 which had been regarded in some quarters as potential attempt to manipulate results.[4]

14,866 of the registered voters representing 65.3% turned out to vote.

Background

The House of Assembly normally sits in four year terms. The Governor must dissolve the House within four years of the date when the House first meets after a general election unless it has been dissolved sooner.[5] Once the House is dissolved a general election must be held after at least 21 days, but not more than two months after the dissolution of the House. The third session of the House of Assembly first met on 23 June 2015,[6] and therefore in the ordinary course of things the latest possible date of the next British Virgin Islands general election would have been one day short of four years and two months after that date, i.e. on 22 August 2019.

However, Delores Christopher, member of the House of Assembly representing the 5th District died on 16 October 2018.[7] There was broad agreement that it was undesirable to hold two elections so close together (a by-election to appoint a new representative for the 5th District, followed by a general election). Accordingly, after taking legal advice and consulting with the Premier Orlando Smith the Governor, Augustus Jaspert, advised that it had been agreed that no separate by-election should be held, and the election would be held on or before 16 April 2019.[8]

The House of Assembly was dissolved on 23 January 2019 and an election date was immediately announced for 25 February 2019.[1]

New leaders and new parties

Both of the main political parties which had contested the prior election had leadership contests, and in both cases the person who lost the leadership contest left to form their own party. Accordingly, in the 2019 election there will be an unprecedented four different political parties with at least one sitting member contesting the general election.

National Democratic Party

Former Premier (retired and did not contest elections)

In June 2018 the Premier and leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Orlando Smith indicated he would be stepping down and not contesting the next general election.[9] In the subsequent leadership contest the party chose Education Minister Myron Walwyn to lead the party into the next election.[10]

In the wake of Dr Smith’s announced retirement, rumours of splits within the ruling National Democratic Party began to circulate almost immediately.[11] Eventually Ronnie Skelton, runner up in the leadership contest, left to form his own political party,[12] named the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM).[13][14]

Second District Representative Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull also left the NDP to join Skelton,[15] as did at-large representative, Archie Christian.[16] Certain media houses began to sarcastically refer to the PVIM as “NDP 2”.[17]

Virgin Islands Party

The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) also had a leadership contest, and the sitting leader, Julian Fraser, was ousted by the challenger, Andrew Fahie. Fraser subsequently announced he would leave the VIP and set up his own party, which he called Progressives United (PU).[18][19]

Controversies

Myron Walwyn eligibility issue

In the run up to the election there were repeated suggestions in the press that Myron Walwyn was not eligible for election to the House of Assembly because his parents are not from the BVI. His father is from Nevis and his mother is from Antigua.[20][21] Leader of the opposition Virgin Islands Party, Andrew Fahie, distanced himself from questions about Walwyn’s eligibility.[22]

Speaker of the House issue

Some controversy arose when leaked lists of candidates suggested that the speaker of the House, Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe, was to stand as an NDP candidate.[23] A number of public figures, the most prominent being Deputy Premier Kedrick Pickering, expressed concern at her being held out as a candidate for a political party whilst occupying the position of Speaker of the House.[24] Ms Moses-Scatliffe refused to confirm or deny that she would be a candidate for the NDP, and the Attorney General rendered an opinion indicating that even if she were, this would not legally preclude her from acting as Speaker of the House in the interim. Ultimately she was not named as a candidate.

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Country and people interest matters we might give as a reason that we almost lost sight or rather did not post re General elections which were held in the British Virgin Islands Monday, on  February 25, 2019.[1] For the first time, four parties with at least one incumbent member were contesting an election.

Premier Andrew Fahie

The result was a decisive victory for the Virgin Islands Party, which won eight of the 13 elected seats under the leadership of Andrew Fahie. The ruling National Democratic Party won only three seats, with new party leader Myron Walwyn losing his seat.[2]

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Seven of the thirteen seats were won by candidates contesting an election for the first time, all for the Virgin Islands Party, a territory record.

In June 2018 the Premier and leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Orlando Smith indicated he would be stepping down and not contesting the next general election.[9] In the subsequent leadership contest the party chose Education Minister Myron Walwyn to lead the party into the next election.[10]

The elections were the first in the British Virgin Islands to use electronically tabulated voting rather that manual counts.[3] Voter turnout was 65.26%.

Election monitors reported that they saw “no real evidence of corruption”, but highlighted a large influx of voter registrations in Districts 5 and 8 which had been regarded in some quarters as potential attempt to manipulate results.[4]

14,866 of the registered voters representing 65.3% turned out to vote.

Background

The House of Assembly normally sits in four year terms. The Governor must dissolve the House within four years of the date when the House first meets after a general election unless it has been dissolved sooner.[5] Once the House is dissolved a general election must be held after at least 21 days, but not more than two months after the dissolution of the House. The third session of the House of Assembly first met on 23 June 2015,[6] and therefore in the ordinary course of things the latest possible date of the next British Virgin Islands general election would have been one day short of four years and two months after that date, i.e. on 22 August 2019.

However, Delores Christopher, member of the House of Assembly representing the 5th District died on 16 October 2018.[7] There was broad agreement that it was undesirable to hold two elections so close together (a by-election to appoint a new representative for the 5th District, followed by a general election). Accordingly, after taking legal advice and consulting with the Premier Orlando Smith the Governor, Augustus Jaspert, advised that it had been agreed that no separate by-election should be held, and the election would be held on or before 16 April 2019.[8]

The House of Assembly was dissolved on 23 January 2019 and an election date was immediately announced for 25 February 2019.[1]

New leaders and new parties

Both of the main political parties which had contested the prior election had leadership contests, and in both cases the person who lost the leadership contest left to form their own party. Accordingly, in the 2019 election there will be an unprecedented four different political parties with at least one sitting member contesting the general election.

National Democratic Party

Former Premier (retired and did not contest elections)

In June 2018 the Premier and leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Orlando Smith indicated he would be stepping down and not contesting the next general election.[9] In the subsequent leadership contest the party chose Education Minister Myron Walwyn to lead the party into the next election.[10]

In the wake of Dr Smith’s announced retirement, rumours of splits within the ruling National Democratic Party began to circulate almost immediately.[11] Eventually Ronnie Skelton, runner up in the leadership contest, left to form his own political party,[12] named the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM).[13][14]

Second District Representative Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull also left the NDP to join Skelton,[15] as did at-large representative, Archie Christian.[16] Certain media houses began to sarcastically refer to the PVIM as “NDP 2”.[17]

Virgin Islands Party

The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) also had a leadership contest, and the sitting leader, Julian Fraser, was ousted by the challenger, Andrew Fahie. Fraser subsequently announced he would leave the VIP and set up his own party, which he called Progressives United (PU).[18][19]

Controversies

Myron Walwyn eligibility issue

In the run up to the election there were repeated suggestions in the press that Myron Walwyn was not eligible for election to the House of Assembly because his parents are not from the BVI. His father is from Nevis and his mother is from Antigua.[20][21] Leader of the opposition Virgin Islands Party, Andrew Fahie, distanced himself from questions about Walwyn’s eligibility.[22]

Speaker of the House issue

Some controversy arose when leaked lists of candidates suggested that the speaker of the House, Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe, was to stand as an NDP candidate.[23] A number of public figures, the most prominent being Deputy Premier Kedrick Pickering, expressed concern at her being held out as a candidate for a political party whilst occupying the position of Speaker of the House.[24] Ms Moses-Scatliffe refused to confirm or deny that she would be a candidate for the NDP, and the Attorney General rendered an opinion indicating that even if she were, this would not legally preclude her from acting as Speaker of the House in the interim. Ultimately she was not named as a candidate.

Please support The Montserrat Reporter