By Mellica McPherson
The actions of the various political candidates and parties have created an atmosphere that suggests that elections might be at least five months away; yet, no firm confirmation has been provided to show that the activities are no more than preparatory measures.
Some form of disclosure that the Territory is heading towards a sooner than expected elections date was sought from Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith on Tuesday 21 April; but there was none provided. In fact, the Premier did not confirm or deny that elections are close.
It is known that the date of elections must be announced by the Governor in the government’s official Gazette, and it is also known that the Premier can suggest the date. However, when questioned by the media as to a date for polling that is constitutionally due, the BVI Leader declared that the date would “certainly be before February.”
To be sure, preparations have begun for the next elections with both of the major parties announcing candidates that will be running on their tickets.
The incumbent National Democratic Party Government during its 20 April radio program used public service announcements to respond to various matters that were alluded to by the Opposition Virgin Islands Party. Accusations and Opposition comments such as Government not preparing for the Biwater supply, and Ministerial travels were some of the matters addressed in the PSA.
Additionally, some Members of the Party have declared that they have begun to campaign. One such announcement was made by NDP Member, Hon. Eileene Parsons. Mrs. Parsons announced during the Monday night program that she has been campaigning, even at church. “I was extremely proud two Tuesdays ago. I am up and down begging for votes even in church. But I stopped at the parking lot at Wickhams Cay and two young men came over to say hello…and I asked them for a favour – will you will be willing to support me and my team? And I was elated when he said Ms. P, support you and your team, you see that big cruise ship tied up some days ago; Ms. P I am going behind them who brought that,” she stated.
Meanwhile, on 15 April the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) announced that its Congress will be meeting shortly to finalize their list of candidates. President of the Party, Mr. Carvin Malone repeated an announcement that he had made on a previous radio program that the Government might opt for an early date.
On Wednesday last week, Mr. Malone announced that VIP officials are of the opinion that a snap-election may be called for early July, 2015, but more specifically before the next Emancipation celebration.
The VIP was placed on snap elections alert by former Party Chairman, current Leader of the Opposition, and Ninth District Representative, Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, who made the suggestion during his announcement that he would not be contesting the next general elections.
At the time Hon. O’Neal warned: “I would like to remind the party that while contemplating on the end of the present term there is a possibility of the Honourable Premier calling a snap election, hoping that the party would not be ready or prepared, and this is where the Virgin Islands Party must show that it is strong and tough and well prepared for any battle.”
The Leader of the Opposition also reminded that the next general election is constitutionally due some time in November in the year 2015 – or within three calendar months after that date.
The People’s Patriotic Alliance (PPA) which contested the 2011 General Elections has since announced that it will not be contesting the upcoming elections. At least two of its members have joined other political parties.
Since the last poll day another political party has been formed — the People Empowerment Party (PEP). The new party is expected to enter the political race as the fourth party. However, the names of candidates running on that Party’s ticket has not been revealed.
The United Party which is a long serving political organization continues to be vocal. The recent political address was made in October, 2014 during a ZBVI radio broadcast. During the Program, Member of the Party, Mr. Conrad Maduro announced that things are not rosy with the Territory, and opined that the solution is political cleaning.
In pinpointing the issues, he stated: “As it now stand the Virgin Islands are being converted into a haven or playground for the rich, while at the same time due to poor or bad economy Virgin Islanders…are being forced out on the way to extinction. The facts are there to verify this and the very proof of this is the sale of property by the banks.”
A number of persons who intend to contest as independent candidates are being noted. Most recent was the public declaration of Preston Stoutt — the son of late Chief Minister, Hamilton Lavity Stoutt.