By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
With five known political parties contesting the upcoming general elections and at least four having a leader eyeing the Office of the Premier, a strong possibility now exists that no one party will command a clear majority at the end of the 2019 General Elections.
This then opens up the possibility for a coalition government running the territory for the next four years. Section 52 of the Constitution says for that to happen, elected members from two or more parties must agree to align to form a government.
But, not all of the four known party leaders hoping to become premier — Myron Walwyn, Andrew Fahie, Julian Fraser, and Ronnie Skelton — are open to the idea of a coalition.
Fahie opposed to coalition
Virgin Islands Party chairman Fahie, is one of those leaders who is unwilling to explore a coalition.
“Even if I was not participating as a candidate, I never promote coalition governments,” Fahie made clear to BVI News. “Research has shown that every country that has gone into a coalition government, it has not worked … It brings chaos because when you put together people of different teams with people of different mindsets, different political methodologies, different political philosophies to run a country, it’s very difficult to do.”
Fahie further said the BVI does not need a coaliation government at this time, especially given the international challenges facing the territory’s main revenue-earner — the financial services.
Progressive Virgin Islands Movement chairman, Skelton, on the other hand, is not ardently opposed to the idea.
He described a coalition as something he is willing to subscribe to once it is to the territory’s benefit.
“If you have people getting together for the common good of the country, I don’t think you’d have a problem … I am happy to do what my colleagues say that I should do once it’s in the best interest of the country,” Skelton told our news centre when invited to comment.
Walwyn, Fraser guarded
Neither National Democratic Party leader Walwyn or Progressives United chairman Fraser were willing to entertain any real discussion about the possibility of a coalition.
“My position would be that we cross that bridge when we arrive,” Walwyn said. “My interest right now is to show the people of the Virgin Islands that the NDP’s slate of candidates is the best ones to lead the country forward.”
Fraser, whose party has only four known candidates so far, said: “I don’t even contemplate looking at coalitions at this stage … I am the kind of guy who always lived my life refraining from predicting the future, especially when I have a dog in the fight,”
“If nomination day comes and I have less than seven candidates, that’s an appropriate question to ask me,” he added.
Can a coalition government work in modern-day BVI
Constitutional attorney Gerard Farara explained to our news centre that the territory would be sent back to polls if no single party gets a clear majority of at least seven elected members, or if no seven elected persons can agree to join to form a government.
“The governor has to be satisfied that ‘Elected person A’ has the support of at least six other persons who have been elected to sit in the House of Assembly,” Farara said.
“And if no one has the clear majority and the governor is satisfied that no one can command the majority, then that’s likely to lead to another general election because then you cant form the government,” he added.
Farara, however, noted that, in a sense, the BVI has had coalitions before.
“For example, Willard Wheatley became Chief Minister (premier) where he associated with members of another party to form the government and likewise did Cyril Romney who I think, at that time, was an independent candidate. So that is a kind of coalition,” the attorney said.
And while weighing in on the feasibility of a modern-day coalition in the Virgin Islands, Farara said it was difficult to predict. However, he noted that “coalition governments can work”.
“There are certainly inherent potential issues that could arise when members of two or more parties come together to form a coalition government but that is not that unusual.”
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