Governor John J. Rankin, CMG has stated that a fresh election would have been considered if political parties had failed to form a majority government, following the general election of April 24, 2023.
The Governor made the revelation while being interviewed as a guest on the Talking Points Show on ZBVI 780 AM and live-streamed on Facebook on May 1, 2023.
No deadline to form majority was given- Gov Rankin
One of the hosts of the show, Elvin Grant, alluded that there were a lot of talks about the Governor having to step in to form a government once the parties had failed to do so, as he enquired from Governor Rankin how long was he prepared to wait before intervening in the process.
“The fact is, and contrary to some statements I’ve seen, I did not set a deadline. Under Section 52 of the Constitution that governs the appointment of the Premier and then the government, the principle is if a single political party gains a majority then they form a government and the Premier is appointed accordingly. But if no political party gains a majority then judgment has to be made,” Governor Rankin said.
The Governor added that prior to the elections he wrote to all of the party leaders, citing the provisions of section 52 of the constitution, as he noted that in normal circumstances with the majority, one would expect the government to be formed at least by the next day in this case, but re-emphasised that he did not set a deadline.
“Clearly, if there had been a number of days delayed in forming the government I might then have set the deadline but we did not reach that stage,” he noted.
The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) was able
to take the government after National Democratic Party (NDP) Member Hon
Lorna G. Smith, OBE (2nd from right) formed an alliance.
Another general election was possible
The Governor was further asked by Mr Grant what sort of factors he would consider using his discretion under section 52 of the constitution and if he would then consider someone from a minority party.
“I would look to whoever I’ve premier to form a working majority in the House of Assembly because it’s necessary for government business to be carried on. So I would certainly have given parties had it been necessary, time to see if they could form the necessary arrangements to have those seven votes in the House of Assembly,” Governor Rankin said.
“If they had not been able to come up with a solution themselves…the normal precedent in countries with the Westminister system and Commonwealth countries…would be for the Governor in this instance to give a number of days for it to be resolved. Had it not been resolved then we would likely would’ve had to have had another general election,” he added.
Governor Rankin indicated that this would have been the best option, rather than attempting to run a minority government, unless there was an arrangement put in place between the parties whereby that minority government could’ve gotten business done within the House of Assembly.The Virgin Islands
Party (VIP) Government had won 6 seats, while the 7 remaining seats were shared among opposition parties National Democratic Party (NDP-3 seats), Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM-3 seats) and Progressives United (PU-1 seat).
The VIP was able to take the government on April 25, 2023, after NDP Member Hon Lorna G. Smith, OBE formed an alliance.