2019 British Virgin Islands general election

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2019 British Virgin Islands general election

← 2015 25 February 2019

All 13 elected seats in the House of Assembly
7 seats needed for a majority
Turnout65.26%
  First party Second party
  Andrew Fahie.png Myron Walwyn.png
Leader Andrew Fahie Myron Walwyn
Party VIP NDP
Leader since 2017 2018
Leader's seat First District At-large (lost)
Last election 2 seats 11 seats
Seats won 8 3
Seat change Increase 6 Decrease 8

  Third party Fourth party
  JulianFraser.jpg Ronnie Skelton.png
Leader Julian Fraser Ronnie Skelton
Party PU PVIM
Leader since 2018 2018
Leader's seat Third District At-large (lost)
Last election
Seats won 1 1
Seat change New New

Map of electoral constituencies by winning party
At-large seats: ■ ■ ■ ■

Premier before election

Orlando Smith
National Democratic Party

Elected Premier

Andrew Fahie
Virgin Islands Party

Coat of arms of the British Virgin Islands.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the British Virgin Islands

General elections were held in the British Virgin Islands on 25 February 2019.[1] For the first time, four parties with at least one incumbent member were contesting an election.

The result was a decisive victory for the Virgin Islands Party, which won eight of the 13 elected seats. The ruling National Democratic Party won only three seats, with 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.

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]

Background[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Myron Walwyn eligibility issue[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Results[edit]

Iles Vierges britanniques Assemblee 2019.svg
Party District At-large Total
seats
+/–
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Virgin Islands Party 4,855 50.3 4 17,441 45.6 4 8 +6
National Democratic Party 2,498 25.9 3 10,798 28.2 0 3 –8
Progressive Virgin Islands Movement 1,188 12.3 1 7,126 18.6 0 1 New
Progressives United 775 8.0 1 1,279 3.3 0 1 New
Independents 338 3.5 0 1,607 4.2 0 0 0
Speaker and Attorney General 2 0
Invalid/blank votes 61 629
Total 9,715 100 9 38,880 100 4 15 0
Registered voters/turnout 14,886 65.3
Source: Election Centre

Territorial seats[edit]

Winning candidates are highlighted in blue.[2] Previously incumbent candidates are marked in bold.

2019 general election results - 1st District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Andrew Fahie VIP 742 81.0%
Sylvia Moses PVIM 141 15.4%
Stephanie Brewley PU 28 3.1%
Rejected 5 0.5%
Total 916 100.0%
Turnout: 60.38%

Incumbent Andrew Fahie (VIP) easily won his sixth consecutive election over his two challengers each contesting their first. District 1 had the lowest turnout of any district with 71.03% of voters participating. Fahie's victory was the highest in terms of margin of votes (601) and percentage of votes cast (81.0%).

2019 general election results - 2nd District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Melvin Turnbull Jr. PVIM 550 53.7%
Carnel Clyne VIP 465 45.4%
Rejected 9 0.9%
Total 1,024 100.0%
Turnout: 65.14%

Incumbent Melvin Turnbull retained his seat after switching parties to join the PVIM, defeating political newcomer Carnel Clyne (VIP).

2019 general election results - 3rd District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Julian Fraser PU 519 46.9%
Aaron Parillon NDP 294 26.6%
Arlene Smith-Thompson VIP 289 26.1%
Rejected 4 0.4%
Total 1,106 100.0%
Turnout: 64.79%

Incumbent Julian Fraser won his sixth election but his first as the leader of the PU after leaving the VIP. He has never lost an election in his 3rd district stronghold. His opponents, Aaron Parillon (NDP) and Arlene Smith-Thompson (VIP) were each contesting their first election.

2019 general election results - 4th District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Mark Vanterpool NDP 442 49.1%
Luce Hodge-Smith VIP 385 42.7%
Carl Scatliffe PVIM 38 4.2%
Vincent Scatliffe PU 24 2.7%
Rejected 12 1.3%
Total 901 100.0%
Turnout: 66.59%

Incumbent Mark Vanterpool (NDP) won his fifth election in six contests, narrowly holding off newcomer Luce Hodge-Smith. District 4 had the highest proportion of spoiled ballots of any district.

2019 general election results - 5th District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Kye Rymer VIP 638 51.0%
Wade Smith PVIM 396 31.7%
Elvis Harrigan NDP 204 16.3%
Rejected 13 1.0%
Total 1,251 100.0%
Turnout: 63.57%

Incumbent Delores Christopher died prior to the election leaving the seat vacant. Newcomer Kye Rymer (VIP) overcame fellow newcomer Wade Smith (PVIM) and Elvis "Juggy" Harrigan (NDP), who was contesting his fifth election (including once as an at-large candidate).

2019 general election results - 6th District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Alvera Maduro-Caines NDP 575 51.4%
John Samuel VIP 534 47.7%
Rejected 10 0.9%
Total 1,119 100.0%
Turnout: 61.72%

Incumbent Alvera Maduro-Caines (NDP) won her third consecutive election narrowly defeating newcomer John Samuel (VIP).

2019 general election results - 7th District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Natalio Wheatley VIP 384 44.7%
Kedrick Pickering Independent 338 39.3%
Hipolito Penn NDP 136 15.8%
Rejected 2 0.2%
Total 860 100.0%
Turnout: 62.53%

Incumbent Kedrick Pickering running as an independent in his fifth election, having won his previous four contests, lost to Natalio Wheatley who was contesting his third ever general election for a third different party. The same seat was formerly held by Wheatley's grandfather, former Chief Minister, Willard Wheatley.

2019 general election results - 8th District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Marlon Penn NDP 726 57.8%
Dean Fahie VIP 527 41.9%
Rejected 4 0.3%
Total 1,257 100.0%
Turnout: 70.74%

Marlon Penn (NDP) won his third consecutive contest, comfortably defeating Dean Fahie (VIP) who was standing for election for the first time.

2019 general election results - 9th District
Candidate Party Votes %age
Vincent Wheatley VIP 891 69.6%
Hubert O'Neal NDP 325 25.4%
Jose DeCastro PVIM 63 4.9%
Rejected 2 0.2%
Total 1,281 100.0%
Turnout: 71.03%

Political newcomer Vincent Wheatley (VIP) easily defeated incumbent Hubert O'Neal (NDP) who was contesting his seventh general election (having won only once previously, in 2015). District 9 had the highest turnout of any district with 71.03% of voters participating. Wheatley's 891 votes was the highest total of any district candidate.

At-large seats[edit]

2019 general election candidates - at large
Candidate Party Votes %age
Sharie de Castro VIP 4,778 12.3%
Neville Smith VIP 4,694 12.1%
Shereen Flax-Charles VIP 4,033 10.4%
Carvin Malone VIP 3,936 10.1%
Myron Walwyn NDP 3,335 8.6%
Henry Creque NDP 2,799 7.2%
Ronnie Skelton PVIM 2,639 6.8%
Sandy Underhill NDP 2,418 6.2%
Trefor Grant NDP 2,246 5.8%
Shaina Smith PVIM 1,805 4.6%
Curnal Fahie PVIM 1,619 4.2%
Dancia Penn Independent 1,607 4.1%
Lesmore Smith PVIM 1,063 2.7%
Dirk Walters PU 769 2.0%
Verna Smith PU 278 0.7%
Rajah Smith PU 232 0.6%
Rejected 629 1.6%
Total: 38,880 100.0%

The VIP candidates won all four of the at-large seats. Each of them other than Sharie DeCastro (contesting her second election, after being unsuccessful in 2015), were standing for election for the first time.

Incumbents Myron Walwyn and Ronnie Skelton were not returned (the two other previous incumbents, Orlando Smith and Archie Christian, did not run).

Pre-election polling[edit]

Although no formal or scientific polls were conducted in the Territory, an unofficial online poll was conducted by VI Platinum News which suggested that a majority of voters prefer the Virgin Islands Party, and a plurality of voters prefer Andrew Fahie as leader.[25] However the highly fragmented outcome of the polling (which does not include independents) pointed to the possibility of a coalition government.

Party Votes %age Leader Votes %age
VIP 1,518 51.7% Andrew Fahie 1,485 47.8%
NDP 831 28.3% Myron Walwyn 896 28.8%
PVIM 485 16.5% Ronnie Skelton 557 17.9%
PU 101 3.5% Julian Fraser 169 5.4%
Total: 2,935 100.0% Total: 3,107 100.0%

Although unscientific, previous polls have correctly predicted the outcome of past elections.[25] In this election the final results were also relatively similar to the informal advance polls, each party polling within 2.5% (the normal margin of error on a scientific poll) of the predicted result.

Manifestos[edit]

Myriad political promises were made and publicised by each party. Manifestos for each political party were launched before the election date of 25 February 2019 as follows:[26]

  • The National Democratic Party (NDP) launched their election manifesto Manifesto 2019: Better, Stronger Together on Friday 15 February 2019.
  • The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) launched their election manifesto Restoring Hope & Prosperity for All: Virgin Islands Party Manifesto 2019 on Tuesday 19 February 2019.
  • The Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) launched their Business Plan of the People of the Virgin Islands[27] by Friday 18 January 2019.
  • Progressives United (PU) launched Our Vision.
  • NDP. Promised to increase scholarships for Virgin Islands to include postgraduate studies,[28] and to make $10 million available to support local businesses.[29]
  • PVIM. Promised to cut tax by increasing the tax free allowance on payroll taxes from $10,000 to $15,000 and promised to introduce a bonus scheme for public sector employees.[30] They also suggested legalising gambling.[31]
  • PU. Promised free legal services, elderly healthcare and free school lunches, as well as pledging to give $1,000,000 a year to research into chronic diseases.[32] Also pledged to introduce "American black history" into school curriculum.[33]
  • VIP. Promised to introduce 'district councils', reduce the need for imported labour and introduce whistleblower laws.[34] They also advocated laws mandating the purchase of local foods before importing food from overseas, and providing subsidies for farmers.[35]

Government[edit]

As the leader of the party with a majority, Andrew Fahie was appointed Premier and invited to form a government.

In appointing his Cabinet, Fahie reshuffled various ministerial portfolios from the traditional division of responsibilies. Unusually, ever member of Cabinet except for Fahie himself is a political newcomer entering the House of Assembly for the first time.

Cabinet of the British Virgin Islands[36]
Office Members Notes
Premier Andrew Fahie Minister of Finance
Governor Augustus Jaspert
Ministers Carvin Malone Ministry of Telecommunications, Health & Welfare
Natalio Wheatley Ministry of Education, Culture, Agriculture, Fisheries, Sports & Youth Affairs
Kye Rymer Minister of Transportation, Works & Utilities
Vincent Wheatley Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour & Immigration
Attorney General Baba Aziz Ex-officio, non-voting
Cabinet Secretary Sandra Ward

In addition, Shereen Flax-Charles was appointed junior minister for tourism.

Subsequent events[edit]

Following the shock defeat of Myron Walwyn, Marlon Penn was appointed Leader of the Opposition.[37] After initially prevaricating, Walwyn confirmed that he would not be quitting politics.[38]

As is customary, the opposition pledged to work with the new government.[39]

Eight days after the election, the successful District 4 candidate and former Cabinet Minister, Mark Vanterpool shocked the country by announcing he was resigning from politics and stepping down from his seat.[40] He subsequently withdrew his resignation and alleged it was invalid as it was sent to the Cabinet Secretary and not the Speaker of the House as required by the Constitution.[41] The Speaker has insisted that the seat is vacant, but the issue remains unresolved.[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Election day February 25!". BVI News. 23 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Election results, VIP wins! Walwyn not elected". BVI News. 25 February 2019.
  3. ^ Claire Shefchik (5 October 2018). "E-voting to be used in next election". BVI Beacon.
  4. ^ "Voters relocated, flocked select districts to 'manipulate' results, Election Observers suspect". BVI News. 28 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, article 84(3)" (PDF). Government of the Virgin Islands. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Official Swearing-In Of House Of Assembly Speaker And Members". Government of the Virgin Islands. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Delores Christopher Passes Away". BVI Platinum. 16 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Statement by His Excellency the Governor on Election in the Virgin Islands". Government of the Virgin Islands. 15 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Premier not seeking re-election as NDP leader". BVI News. 19 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Walwyn elected as NDP leader, Penn new party VP". BVI News. 23 June 2018.
  11. ^ "An NDP in pieces". BVI News. 5 November 2018.
  12. ^ "Skelton Begins Recruiting For New Party". BVI Platinum. 2 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Facts about the so-called Skelton political party". BVI News. 13 November 2018.
  14. ^ "By-Elections? Fifth district told to register, party's recruit candidates". BVI News. 13 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Mitch Resigns From Gov't". BVI Platinum. 16 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Christian Is With Skelton; Intends To Remain Junior Minister". BVI Platinum. 15 November 2018.
  17. ^ "PVIM-NDP 2 launches Wade N. Smith for District 5". Virgin Islands News Online. 12 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Hon Julian Fraser launches new party: 'Progressives United'". Virgin Islands News Online. 24 August 2018.
  19. ^ "Fraser's Party Officially Registered". BVI Platinum. 20 November 2018.
  20. ^ "'Unfortunate' : Walwyn responds to eligibility witch-hunt". BVI News. 19 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Group of citizens hire Attorney to challenge election qualifications". Virgin Islands News Online. 31 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Walwyn's Eligibility Is An NDP Fight, Not VIP--Fahie". BVI Platinum. 4 July 2018.
  23. ^ "Are these the NDP's pick for elections?". BVI News. 14 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Pickering Outs Speaker Over NDP Candidacy; "It's An Abuse"". BVI Platinum. 20 September 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Andrew Fahie, VIP Favoured--Poll". BVI Platinum. 4 February 2019.
  26. ^ "British Virgin Islands Political Party Manifestos". Caribbean Elections. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  27. ^ http://bvibeacon.com/pvim-releases-business-plan-for-vi/
  28. ^ "Locals will get scholarships for masters degrees, PhDs under my administration". BVI News. 15 January 2019.
  29. ^ "$10M To Help Local Businesses—Walwyn Promises". BVI Platinum. 22 January 2019.
  30. ^ "PVIM Promises Bonus & Increased Tax Break". BVI Platinum. 12 January 2019.
  31. ^ "Underground gambling booming: PVIM proposes gaming zone to boost visitor nightlife". BVI News. 29 January 2019.
  32. ^ "Progressive plans: Free legal services, elderly healthcare, lunches under Fraser regime". BVI News. 12 January 2019.
  33. ^ "I Will Add American Black History To Curriculum". BVI Platinum. 22 January 2019.
  34. ^ "VIP promises 'district councils', reduced imported labour, whistleblowing law". BVI News. 17 January 2019.
  35. ^ "Fahie Promises Legislation To Boost Local Food Production". BVI Platinum. 28 January 2019.
  36. ^ "Ministers unofficially announced, restructure of gov't reported". BVI News. 27 February 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  37. ^ "Marlon Penn sworn in as Opposition Leader". BVI News. 28 February 2019.
  38. ^ ""I Am Not Quitting"". BVI Platinum. 2 March 2019.
  39. ^ "New NDP Opposition Makes Call For Peace With VIP". BVI Plaintum. 4 March 2019.
  40. ^ "Mark Vanterpool Retires!". BVI Platinum. 5 March 2019.
  41. ^ "Resignation letter was invalid, I'm coming out of retirement for the people". BVI News. 14 March 2019.
  42. ^ "Speaker notified governor of D4 'vacancy' twice". BVI News. 25 March 2019.