The whole purpose of the Electoral exercise is for the voters to choose representatives from amongst the group of persons who offer themselves as candidates; and to do so via a first-past- the-post system. The people who offer themselves are often but not always grouped together into political parties. In our post-independence history, we have had a few independent candidates and some one and two people parties. But mostly, we have had full-slate parties.
Nevis has two different elections, one for the localised Nevis Island Assembly – which is due within the next 12 months – and the other for the Federal House of Assembly. It is worth the while to chart the history and results of the past [local] elections for which results are available.
In the 1967 Village Council Elections, there were 7 Wards, with actual voting in 6 of them. Just over half of the electorate voted (50.5%). In 1971, the wards were increased to 9, and voting occurred in 7 of them with 62.6% of the electorate voting. In 1975, all candidates were unopposed and so there was no polling.
There were 9 seats again in 1979 and all were contested. The franchise was exercised by 65.7% of the electorate. In 1983, the island was collapsed into 5 Districts instead of 9 Wards, but polling was only done in 3 districts as the other two were uncontested. In those 3 Districts, 61.4% voted. From then onwards, there has not been any other uncontested elections or seats, and voter turnout peaked at 66.2% in 1992.
Ten political parties – and a few Independent candidates – have contested local elections in Nevis. Independent candidates have never done well, they have never captured a seat. The best showing was Frederick Parris who, after winning as PAM, became an Independent candidate and captured 37% of the votes cast in a losing cause.
Most of the parties have been parochial parties with 2 notable exceptions, PAM and SKNALP. Interestingly, while PAM has had some level of success, winning 5 of the 7 seats in 1967; but never contested another election. The SKNALP contested in 1979, and lost all seats. That was the only local election the SKNALP contested as the SKNALP, although some argue that it was present in Nevis through the UNM.
NRP has historically been the dominant party of Nevis Politics over the years until it lost supremacy to the CCM in 1992. It, the NRP, won the 2006 elections and again in 2011, then lost again to the CCM in 2013.
One very interesting facet of this type of elections is that the team which gains the popular vote is not guaranteed to win the elections. Rather, it is who wins the majority of seats. That is why voting in the right place is so important.
Interested readers can follow the political parties, the candidates and the election results on the facebook page of the Electoral Office.