Despite accusations of corruption and mismanagement of the territory’s affairs, the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) still managed to snatch five districts and one At-Large seat in the April 24 election.
And while some maintain that the party didn’t get the popular vote, they still walked away from the election with the most spoils and outwitted their opponents when it was time to form the government.
What accounted for this success? BVI News asked this question of public commentators Dickson Igwe and Benito Wheatley. Both said the VIP’s success in this year’s election was rooted in the party’s ability to connect with the “grassroots”, something they did much better than their opponents.
“The success of the VIP at the polls is a testament to the grassroots appeal of the party as a political organisation. The VIP has the single largest electoral base that is maintained through their highly democratic district committees and congress,” Benito Wheatley explained. Despite the party’s mishaps and very public failures, Wheatley believes the VIP was still able to present themselves as the best option for the BVI at this time.
“The VIP leadership was able to successfully persuade its base that the party remains the best option to govern the territory, which delivered five district seats and one At-Large seat,” said Wheatley.
Commentator Dickson Igwe shared Wheatley’s sentiments. He said the VIP appeared to be more united and connected to the “grassroots” than the other parties that contested the elections.
“The VIP is a unified, organized, and grassroot party with strength on the ground. However, the country now has a strong opposition: it will be interesting to watch the coming months,” Igwe stated.
Although the VIP got the most elected candidates and ultimately formed the government, the party didn’t get the popular vote — meaning that overall, fewer individuals voted for the VIP when compared to the combined number of votes that all the opposing elected representatives received.
Many residents believe this was a clear indication that the Virgin Islands
voted against the VIP. Newly elected Sixth District Representative Myron Walwyn shares this view and argues that the absence of an outright majority was a clear indication that the people wanted to get rid of the VIP.
But he has urged the public to move on from the election bruises as he believes there is now a formidable Opposition in the House of Assembly (HOA) that can hold the government accountable and ensure they deliver favourable results for the community.