The economy is front, centre and rear of any disaster recovery effort after hurricanes Irma and Maria. So the next government, after a 2019 general election, must adopt a specific and measured economic vision spanning 10 to 30 years. This vision must be driven by effective strategic planning and transparent, accountable, audited, compassionate and equitable governance.

Post hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Virgin Islands political landscape is volatile and unpredictable. Irma devastated the physical infrastructure. But the tragedies of September 2017 also smashed the invisible and intangible, bringing havoc to the economic, social and political landscape.

And with general elections potentially months away, it is important that voters and residents understand why a post Irma general election is the most important general election in a generation.

The matter of disaster recovery will take up all of the time of the next government. Voters and residents want to know which political party will best rebuild a devastated VI.

Voters want a long-term strategic plan for these islands. Voters want visionary, transparent and accountable governance. Voters want a better quality of life and the improved standard of living that Irma ripped away from too many.

And the VI lost both precious infrastructure and precious lives as a result of the September 2017 tragedies. The mortality rate post Irma has risen dramatically. A whole generation of Virgin Islanders and other citizens is departing the islands to the Great Beyond.

A number of these deaths must be stress related. It is very difficult for a man or woman in their retirement years, and in a matter of hours, to lose everything they have worked for over their whole span of life.

 

Next election

This is the first article in a series that will walk the voter and citizen into the next general election, which must be held before the end of 2019.

Pre September 2018, the National Democratic Party had a lock on the districts, and it appeared to be coasting to a third term.

Post Irma, that lock may have been smashed by a sledgehammer. The hurts and fears after the disaster changed the political dynamic to one of volatility and unpredictability.

There was a backlash against the incumbents after the hurricane wreaked its havoc. This was not unexpected. When people are hurting, a scapegoat is needed to feed their anger, disillusionment and disappointment. The incumbents are easily blamed, as they have nowhere to hide.

However, a day is a long time in politics, and anything over four weeks is an eternity. In the political world, fortunes of politicians, and their parties, turn at the toss of a coin. Recent mumblings, including the results of a recent and controversial survey, appear to have put some much-needed winds back into the sails of the NDP. However, that poll had encouraging news for the Virgin Islands Party too. The next general election remains winnable by both parties.

 

Disaster Recovery Agency

Then there was the debate on the Disaster Recovery Agency. Talk to any voter on the street, and it would appear that most voters are in support of United Kingdom oversight of disaster recovery. Any politician against the idea of UK oversight is very brave indeed.

Add to the preceding further mumblings of whether or not the VI should go independent — or, at the very least, demand much greater autonomy.

A number of politicians are very vocal on the unacceptability of UK control of the territory. However, once again, the man on the street appears to be quite happy with UK oversight of these islands.

This writer believes that if a referendum were held on the matter of independence today, more than 90 percent of citizens would vote to remain citizens of an overseas territory of Great Britain.

 

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