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OPINION: Multiple parties good for democracy but landslide victory unlikely


Photo depicting sections of Tortola.

“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.

Spiteful derailment

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

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  1. N0 says:

    Multiple parties to this degree is a sign of division amongst the ppl. This is a sign of weakness, lack of vision and greed. We as a ppl dont hold 1 head and we love to bring each other down when wrong rather than give constructive criticism. All these parties in a place that can barely break 30 sq miles just brings SHAME to those living within.

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  2. lawyer says:

    The VIP and PVIM will most like join together since they are both promoting the party as ‘Virgin Islanders’, and NDP will have to win at least six seats to sway one candidate from the other parties to form a government.
    VIP is trying to use the divide and conquer approach to put Virgin Islanders against Virgin Islanders based on where your parents were born.
    PVIM started with that approach but later changed their tune as they sense an opportunity to get votes from the non-indigenous voters.
    The NDP has taken an all inclusive approach. If you are a virgin islander, regardless of who your parents are, you are included.
    The VIP has stated a policy of buying back land from the non-indigenous to give to the indigenous. Thus empowering one over the other. Similar to Nazi Germany. So we can expect more forced land acquisitions directed towards the non-indigenous. I hope in the interest of protecting the people the Governor don’t allow such a policy.
    Let us welcome the possibility coalition government. This may open the doors to new opportunities in uniting our people and improving our democracy.

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  3. @lawyer says:

    You sound very bias against nationalism referring to the desire to preserve one’s child’s birthright as some evil Nazi plot. How large do you find our nation to be? The size of Germany I would guess. Have the BVI aquired acres and acres of reserves to accommodate occupancy of the world? If the US Dollar was not the national currency would there be such an interest in our children’s birthrights? Should we feed your child before our own? What is your plan to balance the scale of hunger in such a small nation that becomes overpopulated? So you want our lands, and you do not want our people to buy our lands back for your children to live and survive? What does this make you? Sounds like a Nazi to me?

  4. Brad Boynes says:

    Hog wash.

  5. Wow says:

    Very interesting I truly trust that the divide and conquer approach is not where we are heading as a people. Are we prepared to bite off our own nose to spite our face? Alienate and attack one portion of our own nationals is a recipe for a weakened divided country incapable of withstanding external or even internal pressures. Let us come up with constructive measures for strengthening our entire nation – rather than discriminatory measures that alienate our own BVI children. A very sad state of affairs. We have crown land why not look at equitable housing programs for lower income families so that every BVIslander gets a fair opportunity to own their own property at reasonable rates. Just about every election we hear about affordable housing schemes for BVIslanders which have never materialized. Lets stop attacking our own nationals…How do we expect to stand as a nation?

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