Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has sounded a stern warning as voters take to the polls today, pleading that they should dismiss the concept of a coalition government since it is fraught with all manner of pitfalls.
Premier Wheatley, in prefacing that warning, noted that the Virgin Islands
Party (VIP) is the only team with a full slate of candidates. He said other parties’ only pathway to a government is through having their entire At-Large slate elected or through the formation of a coalition government with another party.
“They know that none of them can win on their own. So, they have promoted this whole concept and idea of a coalition. Dr [Karl] Dawson called it ‘the bag of Skittles Approach’. That’s the only way that they have a pathway, and they have whispered in your ear and some of you have accepted that. But why would you vote for an experiment?” Premier asked.
Who will lead?
According to Dr Wheatley, even though the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM), led by Ronnie Skelton, endorsed Progressives United (PU) candidate, Julian Fraser, and vice versa, there has been no consensus on who would be the leader of the territory if they are to form a coalition government.
He shared that, during a recent party chairman’s debate, both leaders expressed certainty of becoming the territory’s next leader. “[Ronnie] Skelton said, ‘When I’m the Premier, this is what I’ll do’. Julian Fraser said, ‘When I’m the premier, this is what I’ll do’. Well, which one ayo going to be premier, buddy? You didn’t work that out before the endorsement?” said Dr Wheatley.
The National Democratic Party (NDP) has similarly endorsed Seventh District independent candidate, Perline Scatliffe-Leonard, who is campaigning to replace Dr Wheatley as District Representative.
Premier Wheatley further warned that a big leadership fight will be the first hurdle for any coalition government to cross once elected into office.
The territory’s leader said he was reminded just recently by the Governor’s Office about the procedure in appointing a premier in instances where a unanimous leader has not been selected.
“The Governor’s Office sent me a memo last week reminding me what the constitution says about forming a new government,” Dr Wheatley explained. “The party with a majority forms the new government — the one who can command a majority in the House of Assembly.”
He added: “The constitution also says, if the members who are elected cannot agree on who’s the leader, do you know what happens then? The governor selects the leader. Look in the Constitution… Do you want the governor selecting your leader?”