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BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – Voters electing new government

Voting in the British Virgin Islands

Voting in the British Virgin Islands

ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands – Voters in this Overseas British Territory are casting ballots to elect a new government.

A total of 42 candidates are seeking to enter the 13 member House of Assembly.. Electoral officials say there are 13,585 registered voters.

Last Friday, senior citizens and police as well as electoral officials were allowed to cast ballots in what is termed here as “Advance polling Day”.

Premier D. Orlando Smith is leading his National Democratic Party (NDP) into the elections hoping to increase on the nine seats it won five years ago.

But it faces a strong challenge from the main opposition, Virgin Islands Party (VIP), which is heading to the polls for the first time under its relatively new leader – Julian Fraser, who was selected after 81-year-old Ralph T. O’Neal opted not to seek re-election.

There are also a number of independent candidates contesting the elections, which also involves two minor political organizations –People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) and the People’s Progressive Coalition (PPC).

In some background to the current election – The second sitting of the House of Assembly was dissolved for the election on May 1, 2015, but the election date was not announced until May 6, 2015.

Former PremierRalph T. O’Neal, had warned of the possibility of the Government calling a snap election. President of the opposition Virgin Islands Party, Carvin Malone, had predicted an election on  July 6 or 13, 2015. Although it became common parlance to refer to the election as a “snap” election in local media, it is not entirely clear that it was. The ruling party announced candidates for an “upcoming election” over a month prior to dissolution of the House, and all parties claimed that they had anticipated the announcement.

Former Premier Ralph O’Neal indicated that he would not contest the 2015 election.  He is the longest serving politician in the Territory’s history, and has held the seat for Virgin Gorda and Anegada (now the 9th district, originally the 7th district) continuously since 1975.

Although political dynasties have not been a large feature of British Virgin Islands politics, the 2015 election will witness descendants of each of the first three Chief Ministers of the Territory. Lavity Stoutt‘s son, Preston, has announced he will run as an independent candidate.Willard Wheatley‘s grandson, Natalio, is one of the candidates for the People’s Empowerment Party, and Cyril Romney‘s daughter, JoAnne, is a candidate for the Virgin Islands Party.

The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), led by current Premier Orlando Smith, will seek to defend its majority in the House. If it does so successfully, it will be the first British Virgin Islands political party to win a consecutive term in power in 16 years. Although there had been some speculation in the press that Dr Smith might step down before the election, no public announcement was ever made, and the party repeated the denial that the Premier would soon step down during the election campaign itself.

The main opposition will be provided by the opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP), presently led by former Minister Julian Fraser. The NDP and the VIP have alternated power between them ever election since the 1999 general election. Both parties will field a full slate of 13 candidates. The PEP has five candidates, and the PPC has three. There are six independents.

Voting is ongoing at 22 polling stations across the territory and the polling stations closed at 6.00 p.m. (local time).

The election is being monitored by a team from the Commonwealth.

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Voting in the British Virgin Islands

Voting in the British Virgin Islands

ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands – Voters in this Overseas British Territory are casting ballots to elect a new government.

A total of 42 candidates are seeking to enter the 13 member House of Assembly.. Electoral officials say there are 13,585 registered voters.

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Last Friday, senior citizens and police as well as electoral officials were allowed to cast ballots in what is termed here as “Advance polling Day”.

Premier D. Orlando Smith is leading his National Democratic Party (NDP) into the elections hoping to increase on the nine seats it won five years ago.

But it faces a strong challenge from the main opposition, Virgin Islands Party (VIP), which is heading to the polls for the first time under its relatively new leader – Julian Fraser, who was selected after 81-year-old Ralph T. O’Neal opted not to seek re-election.

There are also a number of independent candidates contesting the elections, which also involves two minor political organizations –People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) and the People’s Progressive Coalition (PPC).

In some background to the current election – The second sitting of the House of Assembly was dissolved for the election on May 1, 2015, but the election date was not announced until May 6, 2015.

Former PremierRalph T. O’Neal, had warned of the possibility of the Government calling a snap election. President of the opposition Virgin Islands Party, Carvin Malone, had predicted an election on  July 6 or 13, 2015. Although it became common parlance to refer to the election as a “snap” election in local media, it is not entirely clear that it was. The ruling party announced candidates for an “upcoming election” over a month prior to dissolution of the House, and all parties claimed that they had anticipated the announcement.

Former Premier Ralph O’Neal indicated that he would not contest the 2015 election.  He is the longest serving politician in the Territory’s history, and has held the seat for Virgin Gorda and Anegada (now the 9th district, originally the 7th district) continuously since 1975.

Although political dynasties have not been a large feature of British Virgin Islands politics, the 2015 election will witness descendants of each of the first three Chief Ministers of the Territory. Lavity Stoutt‘s son, Preston, has announced he will run as an independent candidate.Willard Wheatley‘s grandson, Natalio, is one of the candidates for the People’s Empowerment Party, and Cyril Romney‘s daughter, JoAnne, is a candidate for the Virgin Islands Party.

The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), led by current Premier Orlando Smith, will seek to defend its majority in the House. If it does so successfully, it will be the first British Virgin Islands political party to win a consecutive term in power in 16 years. Although there had been some speculation in the press that Dr Smith might step down before the election, no public announcement was ever made, and the party repeated the denial that the Premier would soon step down during the election campaign itself.

The main opposition will be provided by the opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP), presently led by former Minister Julian Fraser. The NDP and the VIP have alternated power between them ever election since the 1999 general election. Both parties will field a full slate of 13 candidates. The PEP has five candidates, and the PPC has three. There are six independents.

Voting is ongoing at 22 polling stations across the territory and the polling stations closed at 6.00 p.m. (local time).

The election is being monitored by a team from the Commonwealth.