Roadtown, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
It is Election Day in the British Virgin Islands.
Following the 1436 eligible voters who cast ballots on Advance Polling Day last Thursday, the thousands of remaining voters will get their chance to choose a parliamentary representative out of the 42 candidates running for a seat in the House of Assembly. The candidates are contesting seats in nine electoral districts and four at-large races across the territory.
The Virgin Islands Party, considered the incumbents even after the collapse of their administration following former Premier Andrew Fahie’s arrest last April, will face off against the National Democratic Party, the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement and Progressives United in an attempt to gain a majority in the House. Ten independent candidates are also seeking the support of the voting public.
The election is considered a high-stakes exercise, with many Virgin Islanders believing that the BVI’s limited ability for independent governance is at stake. The government of the United Kingdom recently expressed concerns about the slow pace of governance reform by the Unity Government led by Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley, and earlier this year reiterated that the threat of direct rule would not be lifted until those reforms that were committed to following a scathing report emanating from a Commission of Inquiry are completed.
The campaign season in the BVI was punctuated by an appearance from USVI Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on the platform of the VIP, which prompted criticism from Virgin Islanders on both the British and United States sides of the border.