The ceremony to swear in the Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Natalio D. Wheatley, and Ministers of Government took place on Tuesday, April 25, one day after the 2023 General Election, which observers described as “well-administered”.
His Excellency the Governor Mr. John J. Rankin CMG swore in the members of the new Government after he received a letter from the elected members of the Virgin Islands Party pledging their support. Deputy Governor Mr. David Archer Jr. was also present at the ceremony.
The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) secured six seats; the National Democratic Party (NDP), three seats; Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM), three seats and the Progressives United (PU), one seat.
Less than 24 hours after the polls closed, the National Democratic Party’s Lorna Smith formed an alliance with the VIP grouping, giving that party the seventh seat to be able to form a coalition government.
To win a majority, a party has to take at least seven of a total 13 available seats in the House of Assembly after the votes are tallied.
“I have decided that in order to ensure a cohesive, clear and dynamic government can be sworn in, that I will form a coalition with the VIP. This is no lightweight decision, nor is it born from a need for power or control. It is a decision based upon my desire to serve you, the people, to the best of my abilities and with the determination for change to start immediately in this country,” Smith asserted in explaining her decision.
International election observers found that the General Election broadly met international standards.
The Head of Mission, Hon Fatoumatta Njai from The Gambia, said: “The British Virgin Islands has delivered a well-administered election, which was carried out in a calm and professional manner. Polling staff were well- trained, diligent and helpful, and efforts to promote voting by elderly voters and persons with disabilities were commendable.”
The election campaign was described as “vibrant”, and voters were able to choose from a wide range of candidates. Still, the Mission noted that a considerable number of voters chose to stay away from the polls with a lower turnout compared to previous elections. There was also the observation that the participation of women in political life is not actively promoted, with the Mission highlighting that only 3 out of 13 elected Members to the House of Assembly were women.
The observers will be producing a Final Report within two months of Election Day. This Report will include greater detail on the Mission’s findings, and will include recommendations for the improvement of electoral processes for future elections.