Anguilla is an internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Its politics takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby the Chief Minister is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system.
The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes Anguilla on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The territory's constitution is Anguilla Constitutional Order 1 April 1982 (amended 1990). Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Anguilla elects a legislature on a territorial level. The House of Assembly has 11 members, seven members elected for a five-year term in single-seat electoral districts, two ex officio members and two nominated members.
PURPOSE OF AN ELECTION
election allows those eligible to vote (the electorate)
to decide who should represent their views and interests.
Elections are held at regular intervals to enable
the population to change their representative if they
no longer feel that the current postholder best represents
those views and interests.
and free elections are an essential part of a democracy, allowing
citizens to determine how they want the country to be governed.
HOW GENERAL ELECTIONS WORK IN ANGUILLA
general election is held when Parliament is dissolved by the
Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister of the
day. General elections must be held every five years at least.
is divided into seven electoral districts.
Voters in each electoral district elect one member of parliament
to send to the House of Assembly on the first past-the-post
A political party is a group of people who seek to influence or form
the government according to their agreed views and
principles. There are a number of political parties in
Anguilla. Each party nominates one candidate for each
electoral district. Independent candidates may also stand
party or coalition of parties that wins the most electoral districts is asked by the Governor
to form the government. The leader of that party or coalition becomes
the Chief Minister. If the party wins in four or more electoral districts,
it will have a majority government, which makes it much easier
to get legislation passed in the House. If the winning party
has fewer than four seats, it may form a minority government or join with another party or independents to form a coalition government. In
order to get legislation through the House, a minority government
usually has to adjust policies to get enough votes from representatives of other parties.
party that has the second highest number of seats in the House of Assembly and which is not part of a government coalition is called the Official Opposition.
The Governor, acting after consultation with the Chief Minister, may at any time, dissolve the House of Assembly. Unless sooner dissolved, the House of Assembly will be dissolved by the Governor at the expiration of five years from the date when the Assembly first meets after any General Election. A General Election must be held within two months of the dissolution of the House of Assembly, on such date as the Governor may by proclamation appoint.
from general elections, for which all seats are open, by-elections
are held when a member of Parliament dies or resigns.
Chief Minister's power of discretion adds an element of spontaneity
to the electoral process that does not exist in systems where
voting dates are fixed on the calendar. Chief ministers generally
ask the Governor, the formal head of state, to dissolve Parliament
when they think their party has the best chance of winning
a general election.
factors may force an election on a Chief Minister. It is a
convention (established practice) that if a government is
defeated in the House of Assembly on a vote of confidence,
then a general election will follow.
The dissolution of the House of Assembly does NOT affect the day-to-day business of the Government. Executive Council members remain in charge of their portfolios. Following the dissolution of the House of Assembly it is, however, expected that Ministers will refrain from initiating any action of a continuing or long-term character.
CANDIDATES AND POLITICAL PARTIES
Groups of people who have similar ideas about the major issues affecting society form political parties. Political parties nominate candidates and compete in elections to shape government policy. They form useful ‘umbrellas’ for voters by defining a set of principles they represent. Like-minded voters can be assured that a candidate representing a party will act in accordance with these principles, providing an indication of the candidate’s behaviour, if elected.
Independents are candidates who do not belong to a political party. Independents may appear as such on a ballot, or choose to have only their name listed.
In Anguilla, a candidate may be any person who at the date of his election:
is a Anguillan citizen of the age of twenty-one years or upwards;
has resided in Anguilla for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of his election; and
is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, to read the English language with sufficient proficiency to enable him to take an active part in the proceedings of the House..
Anyone who wishes to stand for election must be nominated
on an official nomination paper submitted on Nomination Day by at least two persons who are registered in the Electoral District for which the candidate is seeking election. The candidate's consent should be given in writing on the nomination paper and attested by one witness..
Candidates must stand either for an established political party
or as an independent. All candidates must pay a deposit
which is lost if they do not secure a specified number of
If at 4 pm on Nomination Day, only one qualified candidate has been nominated for the seat, the Returning Officer shall declare that candidate to be duly elected for the seat.
The formal campaign is a relatively short-lived affair: the Chief Minister must give a minimum of three weeks and a maximum of six weeks' notice for a general election. In practice, informal campaigning tends to start much earlier.
During the campaign, parties and candidates use a variety of approaches to reach voters and get their message out. Traditionally, these might include house-to-house canvasing, spot meetings, mass meetings, and political rallies. Concerts are related activities to reach the younger voters are now also part of a modern political campaign.
During the election campaign, all the main political parties produce a wide range of publicity material, including brochures, printed advertisements, and direct mail letters. Manifestos are usually published setting out the party's policies on each major issue. Some candidates may also publish their own manifestos outlining the specific activities for their electoral district.
In the modern political age, technology is the backbone of any campaign. Increasingly, parties and candidates are using dedicated websites, blogs, and social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to get out their appeals. Party manifestos, campaign songs, promotional videos, and candidate profiles are usually all available online.
The headquarters of each political party is responsible for preparing party election advertising material and broadcasts for television, radio, and online media. There is often a dedicated campaign team, which includes seasoned campaigners, party operatives, and professional political strategists. Statisticians, programmers, and graphic artists are usually now part of that team.
WHO CAN VOTE?
Anguilla has universal adult suffrage, i.e. you are entitled to vote in a
general election if you are an Anguillan citizen, and will be 18
or older on polling day.
are by secret ballot. Ballot papers are anonymous, to prevent
undue influence on voters, and the ballot boxes are sealed
to prevent electoral fraud.
Polling Day, Anguillans do not vote for a Chief Minister, but
for candidates running in each of the seven single-seat electoral districts
throughout the country. A party needs to win in at least four electoral districts
to command a majority in the House of Assembly, which allows
it to choose a Chief Minister, formally appointed by the Governor
. Once selected, the Chief Minister begins the task
of forming a government.
electoral district is divided into a number of polling stations,
each of which has a polling station. Most polling stations
are in public buildings such as schools and churches, but
other buildings can be used on request. Voting takes place
on election day from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
is by secret ballot, and the only people allowed in the polling
station are the presiding officer (who is in charge), the
polling clerks, the duty police officers, the candidates,
their election agents and polling agents and the voters. However no politician, either in government or in opposition, or any other person for that matter, knows for whom a person has voted.
before the poll opens, the presiding officer shows the ballot
boxes to those at the polling station to prove that they are
empty. The boxes are then locked and sealed. In the polling
station voters are directed to the presiding officer or polling
clerk, who asks the voter his or her name, checks that it
is on the register, and places a mark against the register
entry. This records that the voter has received a ballot paper
but does not show which one. The officer or clerk gives the
ballot paper an official mark before handing the paper to
the voter. The official mark is intended to show that the
papers placed in the ballot box are genuine.
ballot paper lists the names of the candidates in alphabetical
order. Voting takes place in a booth, which is screened to
maintain secrecy. The voter marks the ballot paper with a
cross in the box opposite the name of the candidate of his
or her choice, and fold the paper to conceal the vote before
placing it in the ballot box. All voters are required to dip their right index finger in electoral ink prior to putting their ballot paper in the ballot box.
paper that is spoiled by mistake must be returned to the presiding
officer. If the Presiding Officer is satisfied that the soiling
was accidental, another paper is provided and the first is
At the end of the voting the Presiding Officer delivers
those spoilt papers to the Returning Officer. The ballot boxes
are then sealed and delivered to the central point - the Counting
Station, where the count is to take place.
COUNTING THE BALLOTS
ballot boxes are taken to a central place in each electoral district
where counting takes place. Each ballot box is emptied, the
papers mixed up and the votes counted by teams of helpers.
This is done in the presence of the candidates. When all the
votes have been counted the results are announced by the Returning
Officer. Depending on the time it takes to bring all of the
ballot boxes to the count and the result of the count, the
final result may be announced before midnight. Most results
will come in during the early hours of the morning, but some
will not be known until well into the next day.
the result is close then either candidate can demand a recount.
The Returning Officer will advise the candidates of the figures
and sanction a recount. Recounts can continue until both candidates
and the Returning Officer are satisfied with the result.
Securing ballot boxes
After the ballots are counted they are sealed in boxes and kept in a strong room at the Police Headquarters and that those boxes could only be opened by a court order – by a judge – for the purpose of dealing with any dispute pertaining to the election results. After one year all ballot papers are destroyed by burning them to ashes.
OBSERVING THE ELECTION
For the first time Anguilla will have International Election Observers at its 2015 General Elections. Both the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have given their support to this arrangement.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made funds available for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to provide a team of independent election observers.
Members of the observer team undertake a range of activities, including monitoring the media and election campaigns, reviewing the election law, the constitution and commitments the country is signed on to, in detail. They also examine the election machinery from polling clerks to the administrator as well as observe training. The team generally attempts to meet all the key stakeholders and party political activists. They attend party rallies, meet candidates, civil society organisations, academics, etc.. The observer team usually holds press conferences at the start and end of their visits, and at the end of the mission, the team prepares a report that is available to the public.
AFTER THE RESULTS
all of the results are known the Governor will usually
invite the leader of the party or coalition winning the most seats in the
House of Assembly to be Chief Minister to form a Government.
Chief Minister will appoint several members of his party or coalition to become members of the Cabinet.
Executive Council (Cabinet) consists of the Chief Minister and a number of other Ministers. Ministers are appointed by the Governor
, acting in accordance with the advice of the Chief
Minister, from among the members of the Houses. The Governor
, with the advice of the Chief Minister, may also appoint Parliamentary Secretaries to assist
Ministers in the discharge or their functions.
party that wins the second-largest number of seats in Parliament,
and which is not part of the government, comprises the opposition, which forms a "shadow"
cabinet poised to assume power at any time during the ruling
government's five-year term.
Governor appoints as Leader of the Opposition the
person who, in his/her judgment, is best able to command the
support of a majority of those members of the House who do
not support the Government.
few days after the general election the House of Assembly
assembles in preparation for the new Parliament to begin.
All Members of Parliament must be sworn in by taking an oath of allegiance or
making an affirmation, and must sign the official register.
The Speaker is customarily selected by
a vote of the sitting members of parliament.
GENERAL ELECTTION AND BY-ELECTIONS
Anguilla usually has two kinds of elections: general elections and by-elections.
A general election is an election for every electoral district in the country. While a general election can seem like one election, it is actually many separate elections happening at the same time, because its purpose is to fill all of the seats, which became vacant when parliament was dissolved.
A by-election takes place when a seat in the House of Assembly becomes vacant between general elections. If there are several vacant seats then a number of by-elections can take place on the same day.
A seat becomes vacant during the lifetime of a Parliament either when a Member resigns from Parliament, for example to take up a job which by law cannot be done by a MP, or because a Member has died. The law also allows a seat to be declared vacant because of a Member's bankruptcy, mental illness, or conviction for a serious criminal offence.
A by-election does not automatically take place if a Member of Parliament changes political affiliation.
AUF = Anguilla United Front; AUM = Anguilla United Movement; DOVE = The DOVE Party; IND = Independent; * Incumbent; ** Political Leader
Government of Anguilla. 2014. Election Guidelines for the Anguilla Public Service
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