British Virgin Islands general election, 1979

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British Virgin Islands general election, 1979
British Virgin Islands
← 1975 12 November 1979 (1979-11-12) 1983 →

All seats in the British Virgin Islands Legislative Council
5 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 74.8%
  First party Second party Third party
 
Leader H.L. Stoutt W. Wheatley Q.W. Osborne
Party Virgin Islands Party BVI United Party VI Democratic Party
Leader since 1971 1975 1967
Leader's seat 1st District 7th District 7th District
Seats won 5 1 0
Popular vote 733 178 199
Percentage 27.8% 6.7% 4.9%

  Fourth party
 
Leader Elvin Stoutt
Party Virgin Islands National Movement
Leader since 1979
Leader's seat 1st District
Seats won 0
Popular vote 605
Percentage 22.9%

Chief Minister before election

Willard Wheatley
BVI United Party (Coalition)

Elected Chief Minister

Lavity Stoutt
Virgin Islands Party

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.[1] 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.

Background[edit]

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.

Results[edit]

British Virgin Islands general election, 1979[2]
Party Votes Percentage Seats Won
United Party 178 6.7% 1
Virgin Islands Party 733 27.8% 4
Virgin Islands National Movement 605 22.9% 0
VI Democratic Party 199 4.5% 0
Independents 1,004 38.0% 4
Total 2,639 100% 9
Turnout: 74.8%

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.

Individual seats[edit]

British Virgin Islands general election, 1979[3]
Individual seats
Constituency Candidates Votes Percentage Winner Party
1st District
Turnout: 77.6%
H. Lavity Stoutt (VIP) 328 55.2% H. Lavity Stoutt Virgin Islands Party
Elvin O. Stoutt (VINM) 256 43.1%
Rejected 10 1.7%
Total 594 100%
2nd District
Turnout: 67.0%
Prince Stoutt (VIP) 139 57.0% Prince Stoutt Virgin Islands Party
Edison O'Neal (VINM) 103 42.2%
Rejected 2 0.8%
Total 244 100%
3rd District Oliver Cills (VIP) Uncontested Oliver Cills Virgin Islands Party*
4th District
Turnout: 70.8%
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%
Rejected 7 1.3%
Total 532 100%
5th District
Turnout: 74.1%
Cyril Romney (Ind) 222 64.5% Cyril Romney Independent
Q.W. Osborne (VIDP) 119 34.6%
Rejected 3 0.9%
Total 344 100%
6th District
Turnout: 68.9%
Omar Hodge (Ind) 197 52.0% Omar Hodge Independent
Conrad Antonio Maduro 178 47.0%
Rejected 4 1.0%
Total 379 100%
7th District Terrance B. Lettsome (VIP) Uncontested Terrance B. Lettsome Virgin Islands Party*
8th District Willard Wheatley (UP) Uncontested Willard Wheatley United Party*
9th District
Turnout: 85.5%
Ralph T. O'Neal (Ind) 403 59.6% Ralph T. O'Neal Independent
Reeial George (Ind) 169 25.0%
Rejected 6 0.9%
Total 676 100%
* 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.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "BVI election and information results 1950–2011" (PDF). BVI Deputy Governor's Office. p. 7. 
  2. ^ "BVI election and information results 1950–2011" (PDF). BVI Deputy Governor's Office. pp. 84–86. 
  3. ^ "BVI election and information results 1950–2011" (PDF). BVI Deputy Governor's Office. pp. 84–86.