“I pledge to my country, the territory of the Virgin Islands, to encourage national pride and dignity, render patriotic service, promote justice for all, be true to God and remain dedicated to these Virgin Islands”.
These words echo the sentiments of what it means to be a true Virgin Islander. In my view, the people of the Virgin Islands should pay keen attention to these words in this the political season.
With elections constitutionally due by April 2019, the political climate in ‘Nature’s Little Secret’ has dramatically increased. Since then, we have witnessed the formation of new parties, the departure of key members from the two main parties, and new energetic candidates bursting unto the scene.
To date, the VI has four major political parties set to contend for the seats in elections. They come in the form of the National Democratic Party, Progressive Virgin Islands Movement, Progressives United, and the Virgin Islands Party. Each party seems to be beaming with confidence, expressing their ideas of what they intend to do if it should form the government.
The ‘Lucky 7’, hard to see one party having landslide victory
To have so many parties contesting an election in a small territory like the BVI is commendable as it highlights the maturity and development of its democracy. Objectively speaking, each party has presented slates of capable candidates, which in a positive way, has forced the electorate to engage in a deep analysis to select the ‘right candidates’.
But, with multiple parties, the possibility of a coalition is ripe. The idea of a coalition government, has been on the minds of many in recent months. To date, there are 13 seats at stake, and in observing the political climate, it is difficult to see one party having a landslide victory.
Each party is aiming to attain the lucky number seven, to ensure its place as government of the VI. In listening to the various political discussion and gauging the mood of the people, I am of the view, that this ‘Lucky 7’, may turn out to be as elusive as the holy grail to the contesting parties.
Therefore, political leaders must ensure that this is taken into consideration as they prepare to do battle in the upcoming elections.
A coalition government occurs where no single party attains the majority of the votes, resulting in the parties forming alliances/mergers to form the government. There are several examples of where coalition governments have been used across the world in countries such as Belgium, France and Norway.
The current government in the UK can be likened to a coalition, as the Conservatives did not attain the 325 majority and entered into an agreement with the DUP. In 2010, Trinidad & Tobago swore in a coalition government with the then Prime Minister Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Politicians must set aside egos
Therefore, the notion of a coalition government is not a new concept, but the argument lies in its workability. The people of the VI have mixed views as it relates to a coalition. Some see it as the best way forward, while others deem it as an unworkable system. The truth is, a coalition calls for maturity in leadership and requires that leaders put aside their egos, and compromise in making the best decision in charting the way forward for the country.
The challenge with this is that each party has its own philosophies and views on the direction in which the country should head.
In an article published on January 18, 2019, on BVI News Online, the political leaders expressed their views on the idea of a coalition government. Whereas three of the four gave a guarded response by expressing ‘politically correct’ views, one leader sited issues with the idea. The leader grounded his argument on the premise that this arrangement has failed in every country that has implemented it. Whereas this may be the case for some countries, it is unfair to make a generalization.
In 2010 there were more than 20 countries in the European Union that had a coalition government in place. These are countries whose economies and levels of development are advanced. To the leader’s merit, however, a coalition can result in many roadblocks to government, as one party may deliberately derail the programme for its own selfish gain.
The disastrous weather events of 2017 are forever etched in the minds of the people of the Virgin Islands, as they have changed the way of life of the country. These events have highlighted that it cannot be business as usual, and has placed the Virgin Islands in a state where it needs effective leadership to restore, rebuild and reposition itself as a country and by extension make its presence felt on the international scene.
This election can be argued to be the most critical in the history of the Virgin Islands as without the right leadership, the Virgin Islands will slip into an abyss of failure.
Capable leaders exist here
For sure, the Virgin Islands is not short as it relates to finding capable and competent individuals who are able to effectively overcome the challenge at hand. The test, however, lies in merging of these great minds to work together as one and a coalition government may just be the solution.
I, therefore suggest to leaders and people of the VI to be open to the idea of a coalition government.
In closing, politics is an avenue through which individuals offer themselves to be of service to their country. It is a field which requires individuals to put people before themselves. If our political leaders are truly patriotic and passionate about the development of the BVI, then there should be no issue for them putting aside their egos and work together for the betterment of this beautiful territory.
May God richly bless this territory with courageous leaders that they may rule our destiny.
— Thinking Cap