General Elections were held in the British Virgin Islands on 7 November 2011 for all 13 seats in the House of Assembly.
The British Virgin Islands elects on territorial level to a unicameral legislature. The House of Assembly (formerly called the Legislative Council prior to 2007) consists of fifteen (15) members; thirteen (13) elected representatives for a four year term, nine (9) of whom are electoral district representatives and four (4) as territorial-at-large representatives, the Attorney General (non-voting, ex officio member) and one elected Speaker.
General Elections in the Virgin Islands were constitutionally due no later than 12 November 2011. The House of Assembly was dissolved on 13 September 2011. On 5 October 2011, His Excellency the Governor Mr. Boyd McCleary issued the Writs of Election appointing Monday, 24 October 2011 as Nomination Day and Monday, 7 November 2011 as Polling Day.
Political Parties & Candidates
Forty-three candidates were nominated. Of these, 27 candidates were nominated for the nine Local electoral districts seats and 16 candidates were nominated for the four Territorial electoral seats.
Thirty of the nominated candidates were nominated by the Territory’s main political parties: The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) 13; The National Democratic Party (NDP) 12; The People’s Patriotic Alliance (PPA) four (4); and The Party of the People (POP) one. The 13 other candidates were Independent candidates.
A key element of the campaign by the two major political parties, VIP and NDP, was the publication of Manifestos. The VIP's Manifesto outlined policies and strategies to improve governance, increase economic activity and tackle social problems. The NDP's Manifesto outlined the Party's promises to fix the economy, reduce the cost of living, protect the rights of consumers, create employment opportunities, and ensure foreign direct investment benefits the people of the BVI. The two Manifestos were general in nature and did not specify how the Parties intended to implement their campaign promises.
The campaign also involved rallies which were carried live on radio and television; radio and television spots; advertisement in newspapers and on the Internet; printing and distribution of leaflets, stickers and T-shirts with party colours; erection of billboards; and organizing motorcades. The campaign of the two major parties actually climaxed with the holding of separate motorcades on the weekend prior to Election Day.
Voter turnout was 70.8% of the 12,656 registered voters.
The result was a decisive victory for the opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) led by Orlando Smith over the incumbent Virgin Islands Party (VIP), led by Premier Ralph T. O'Neal. No minor parties or independent candidates won any seats.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (British Islands & Mediterranean Region), on the invitation of His Excellency Boyd McCleary, Governor of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), agreed to mount two teams that constituted an Electoral Observer Mission to the General Elections.
On 9 November 2011 Governor Boyd McCleary officially appointed Orlando Smith as the Premier under section 52(1) the constitution. He became the third person in BVI political history to serve two non-consecutive terms of office as Chief Minister/Premier, and the fourth to win more than one general election as party leader. On the same day the first cabinet was sworn in under Orlando Smith.