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FINAL REPORT: Election observers echo calls for fixed election terms

The international team of independent officials who Governor Augustus Jaspert invited to observe the 2019 General Elections.

Calls are being echoed for the British Virgin Islands to consider changing the laws to reflect a fixed term for elections.

This latest call comes through recommendations by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association British Islands and Mediterranean Region Election Observation Mission.

In their recent final report on the February 2019 General Election, the mission said they want the Fahie-led administration to consider the legislation that would see elections done every four or five years.

“This would ensure that election officials have sufficient time to adequately prepare. More importantly, this would give election administrators adequate time to inform and educate the electorate on possible changes to voting procedures”, the report explained.

Former Attorney General and independent candidate in the recently held election, Dancia Penn had planned to champion constitutional reform to have a fixed date for all general election if she was successful at the polls.

Currently, the Premier is the one who decides when Election Day will be. 

“No premier, whoever he or she may be, should be able to carry around in his or her back pocket the election date and have the country guessing. I really think that is one of the areas that cry out for serious reform,” Penn said at the time.

At the same time, the mission believes there should be a review and update of the Virgin Islands Elections Act.

Competitive election 

In the meantime, Head of Mission Palmavon Webster said the election was a competitive one.

“The Virgin Islands 2019 election was vibrant and competitive, and the results reflected the will of the voters. The Election Observation Mission commends the Virgin Islands for taking positive steps to improve voting processes and to encourage a more positive campaign environment.”

Special commendation should go to the election officials who, in a short period of time, administered the election effectively,” she said.

Distrust in the election system

However, Webster said there is distrust in the electoral system, and the mission continues to express concern that the regulatory framework, particularly about campaign financing and lack of transparency undermines the equality and openness of the election process.

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6 Comments

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  1. Albion says:

    100% agree. Our constitution was based on the UK Parliamentary system. But even the UK has now moved to fixed term elections. We should too.

  2. E. Leonard says:

    Fix term term/date election will level the playing field for both government and opposition; it will remove the guessing game as to when an election will be held. It will create efficacy in managing the electoral process. Currently, the sitting Premier holds the trump card as to when a general election is held. If the incumbent government is riding high, it is to its advantage to call a snap/early election. On the other hand, it is tanking, it will delay election as long as it can. Thus, setting a fix date for election will result in the sitting government having to give up a trump card/a political weapon but it will level the playing field in the national interest.

    Moreover, a fix term/date for election can be modeled after the UK’s. In the UK, a general election is normally held on first Thursday in May every five years. The UK has provisions for a successful no confidence vote and for 2/3 of the House of Commons calling for a special election. Currently, the VI fiscal year runs from 01 January to December 31. As such, to give a new government reasonable time to develop a budget, a June election is workable. Or the fiscal year can be shifted to run from 01 October to 30 September and an election date can be set for April. This date too will give a new government a reasonable time to develop a budget. The VI can be the standard bearer among regional Anglophone countries on this issue———fix term election.

    • Quiet Rebel says:

      “The VI can be the standard bearer among regional Anglophone countries on this issue———fix term election.” Standard bearer you say. The BVI is on a course of decision making based on the wind direction. Every decision it seems is a transaction; it is transactional leadership. It is misguided populism. What the VI needs is transformational leadership——long-term, strategic planning…….etc. Setting a fix date for election is a simple, no brainer decision yet it will be a difficult decision, for it means giving up an advantage. It nah happen. Every decision even when they are for the good is about self interest . We all are about self interest.

  3. for true says:

    We know when easter monday, augast monday ,
    and xmas day is but not election day

  4. vip heckler says:

    Lets see if prayers and consultations gonna work here now

    Like 4
    Dislike 2

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