The territory’s next general election is to take place before the end of next summer. It will be an epic affair.
The election will be a hard fought battle. In politics the stakes are always high. Accordingly, the months leading up to polling day will be a very interesting time for election watchers.
The march to the ballot box is also the continuation of two preceding marches.
The first march was a very large protest against the United Kingdom’s decision to require the overseas territories to establish public registers of company ownership. The second march was tiny, but it was also a movement. A group of vocal activists demanded greater accountability, transparency and integrity from their government.
However, the march to the ballot box is much more critical. It actually started long before the two recent marches. It began, as with any pre-election dynamic, at midterm in the present government’s tenure: the end of 2016. The third march, then, is a two-year odyssey.
At midterm, a general election is typically about two years away. However, around that time it begins to generate a gravity all of its own. It is always at the back of the mind of the politician that his time in power may be limited. So campaigning begins very early: the 24-month campaign.
The next premier
Officially, however, the third march began last month with the victory of Myron Walwyn at the National Democratic Party conference.
So at the end of the third march, at the end of voting, one of two men will most likely take that greatly desired seat of political power that is the premiership. The two men are the leaders of the Virgin Islands Party and the NDP.
There is also the very remote possibility of a third option of governance: a coalition government. The former opposition leader, Julian Fraser, has announced plans to form a third party.
Based on precedent, however, third parties and independent candidates have not been successful in changing the political narrative from a two-party system since the mid-1990s.
Nevertheless, there are indications that matters may be different in the next election. Post Hurricane Irma, the VI voter may want coalition government, as two-party governance has left the territory worse off today than it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This has been the result of non-transparent, non-accountable and non-audited governance by both political parties.
The VI voter appears to be demanding a new culture of transparent and accountable governance from a new government after the next election. Time will tell whether that desire gets fulfilled.
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