British Virgin Islands general election, 1979
All seats in the British Virgin Islands Legislative Council
5 seats needed for a majority
The British Virgin Islands general election, 1979 was held in the British Virgin Islands on 12 November 1979. The result was a victory for the opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP) led by former Chief Minister Lavity Stoutt over the incumbent United Party (UP) led by Willard Wheatley. The a newly formed party, the Virgin Islands National Movement (VINM), led by Elvin Stoutt, also contested the election but did not win any seats.
The supervisor of elections was Trevor A.F. Peters. The turnout was 74.8%.
The 1979 general election was the first election to be conducted after the Legislative had been expanded to nine elected seats (from the previous seven). Astonishingly, fully one third of the seats up for election were not contested, with only a single candidate standing in the 3rd, 7th and 8th Districts. For the 3rd District, this was the second consecutive general election where the seat was uncontested.
By 1979 internal fighting had severely limited the capability of almost every political party in the British Virgin Islands. After internal fighting, the VI Democratic Party (VIDP) was left with just one candidate: its founder, Q.W. Osborne. The United Party fared little better: it was able to field two candidates. Neither party would win a contested seat, although William Wheatley would win the 7th District by default for the United Party as he was unopposed. The newly created Virgin Islands National Movement fielded the second most candidates with three, and even the Virgin Islands Party could only muster four.
The fact that three seats were not even contested suggests growing disenchantment with the political process at the time.
|Virgin Islands Party||733||27.8%||4|
|Virgin Islands National Movement||605||22.9%||0|
|VI Democratic Party||199||4.5%||0|
The Virgin Islands Party won all four of its seats, giving it a plurality of seats, with four. But this was still a long way short of being able to form a government. So they moved to secure the loyalty of Oliver Cills (who had previously been a member of the Virgin Islands Democratic Party), thereby giving them a majority with which to form a government.
The victory of the Virgin Islands Party with just 733 votes and a 27.8% share of the vote are both record lows for a general election in the British Virgin Islands. The much higher percentage of votes for independent candidates (1,004 and 38.0%) and the number of seats which were not even contested indicates a general level of disenchantment by the voters with both the established political parties and possibly elections in general.
Notable candidates who were elected for the first time included future Chief Minister, Cyril Romney, and future Minister, Omar Hodge, who would hold his seat for the next 32 years (the third longest such span in British Virgin Islands politics).
The defeat of Q.W. Osborne in the 5th District signalled the end of the VI Democratic Party. Following the election, the United Party was the only party left in existence from the 1967 general election.
|H. Lavity Stoutt (VIP)||328||55.2%||H. Lavity Stoutt||Virgin Islands Party|
|Elvin O. Stoutt (VINM)||256||43.1%|
|Prince Stoutt (VIP)||139||57.0%||Prince Stoutt||Virgin Islands Party|
|Edison O'Neal (VINM)||103||42.2%|
|3rd District||Oliver Cills (VIP)||Uncontested||Oliver Cills||Virgin Islands Party*|
|Alban Ulric Anthony (VIP)||266||50.0%||Alban Ulric Anthony||Virgin Islands Party|
|Reynold O'Neal (VINM)||246||46.2%|
|Carlton deCastro (Ind)||13||2.4%|
|Cyril Romney (Ind)||222||64.5%||Cyril Romney||Independent|
|Q.W. Osborne (VIDP)||119||34.6%|
|Omar Hodge (Ind)||197||52.0%||Omar Hodge||Independent|
|Conrad Antonio Maduro||178||47.0%|
|7th District||Terrance B. Lettsome (VIP)||Uncontested||Terrance B. Lettsome||Virgin Islands Party*|
|8th District||Willard Wheatley (UP)||Uncontested||Willard Wheatley||United Party*|
|Ralph T. O'Neal (Ind)||403||59.6%||Ralph T. O'Neal||Independent|
|Reeial George (Ind)||169||25.0%|
|* Candidates in uncontested seats were not required to declare parties for the purposes of the election. They are recorded on the basis of the parties that they sat with during the Legislative sessions following the election.|