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OP ED: Uncertainty looms as BVI’s next Premier still undecided

OP ED: Uncertainty looms as BVI’s next Premier still undecided

Following the recent election in the British Virgin Islands, the public is eager to know who will become the next Premier.

The Virgin Islands Party currently holds six of the 13 seats in the House of Assembly, but they require a seventh to form a government. However, the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) and the National Democratic (NDP) parties, who each won three seats, are unlikely to be swayed to join the VIP.

Julian Fraser, the only candidate with a party of one, previously declared the VIP as ‘public enemy number one’ during the campaign. He has formed a soft alliance with the PVIM and expressed his willingness to work with the NDP. Before the election, the PVIM and NDP were considering an alliance, and they may revisit those discussions to prevent the VIP from claiming another term as the government.

If the NDP, PVIM, and Fraser join forces, they would have the seven legislators necessary to form a government. However, this three-way alliance is stacked with leaders, making it difficult to imagine any of them relinquishing their grip on the ‘crown’ of the premiership without a fight.

While each of the leaders possesses considerable legislative experience and strengths that make them fit for the role, they also have qualities that some may view as liabilities. For instance, Skelton’s communication skills have been called into question in some circles. Questions have also arisen about whether that perceived deficiency will put the BVI at a disadvantage during high-level talks in the international space. Penn’s political maturity has also been questioned, and Fraser’s ability to work well with others and lead effectively has been doubted.

Lorna Smith, an independent-turned-NDP member, may be viewed as a potential compromise candidate. A major player in financial services and a diplomat, Smith has proven herself capable. However, some may question whether a first-term legislator like Smith should assume the role of Premier at such a critical point in the territory’s history.

The newly elected officials have much to discuss, and time is of the essence. If they are unable to make a decision, Governor John Rankin has the constitutional authority to select the candidate he believes is the best fit for the role of Premier.

Section 52 of the Virgin Islands Constitution.

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