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The year 2015 was a bumper one for Caribbean politics with an amazing nine general elections being contested across the region.  The results represented mixed fortunes for incumbent governments.  Incumbent parties in Belize and the British Virgin Islands both increased their majorities in snap elections.  The majority party in Suriname similarity increased its majority in the constitutionally due election; whereas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the incumbent party maintained its one-seat majority (a victory still disputed by the opposition).  Long-serving majority parties in Guyana and St. Kitts and Nevis fell to their opposition counterparts.  The one-term administrations in both Anguilla and Trinidad and Tobago met similar fates.  In Haiti, the runoff presidential vote along with parliamentary run-offs, originally scheduled for December 2015, was postponed until 2016.  In 2015, elections were also held for Island Councils in Bonaire, St Eustatius, and Saba.

Here we recap the 2015 election year.

St. Kitts and Nevis

Team Unity denied the incumbent Dr. Denzil Douglas St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and unprecedented fifth election victory in the 16 February 2015 general election in St. Kitts and Nevis.  The Team Unity alliance of three opposition parties, the People's Action Movement (PAM), the People's Labour Party (PLP), and the Concerned Citizens' Movement (CCM) was led by Dr. Timothy Harris.  On St. Kitts, PAM won four of the eight seats, whilst the SKNLP losing half their seats.  Contesting their first elections, the PLP won one of two seats contested.  On Nevis, two seats were won by the CCM and the third by the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP).  The outgoing coalition (SKNLP and NRP) secured 50.08% of votes but got only four seats, the winning Team Unity coalition won 7 seats with only 49.92% of votes.  Voter turnout was 72.19%, with 30,455 of the 42,185 registered voters casting their ballots in the election.

Timothy Harris being sworn in as Prime Minister of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis

Caribbean Netherlands

Elections for Island Councils in Bonaire, St Eustatius, and Saba were held on 18 March 2015.  On Bonaire, with a voter turnout of 78%, there was a three-way tie for the nine seats with Movementu di Pueblo Boneriano (MPB), Partido Demokratiko Boneriano (PDB), and Union Partriotiko Boneriano (UPB) each winning three seats.  On St. Eustacius, United People’s Coalition (UPC) leader Reginald Zaandam won his party’s only seat.  The other four seats in the council are shared equally by Progressive Labour Party (PLP) led by Clyde van Putten and Democratic Party (DP) St. Eustatius led by Adelka Spanner.  On Saba, the Windward Island People’s Movement (WIPM) defeated the Saba Labour Party (SLP) with three seats to two.

New Island Council in Saba

Anguilla

The main opposition Anguilla United Front (AUF), led by former finance minister Victor Banks, was swept into power here after winning six of the seven seats in the general election on Wednesday, 23 April 2015.  Independent Pam Webster won the remaining seat.  The incumbent Anguilla United Movement (AUM) did not win a seat. Medical practitioner Dr Ellis Lorenzo Webster, who took over the leadership of the AUM after Hubert Hughes, 82, Anguilla’s oldest Chief Minister had indicated he was stepping down after 40 years in active politics, led the AUM.  The economy, job creation, infrastructural development and good governance were among the main issues a lengthy election campaign, spanning a little over 12 months.   Voter turnout was 73.24%, with 7,989 of the 10,908 registered voters casting their ballots in the election in the 35 square mile British Overseas Territory.

View our Anguilla 2015 Election Centre »

New Anguilla Unified Front Administration with Governor Scott (left)

Guyana

The opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance for Change (AFC), led by former army brigadier and publisher David Granger won the 11 May 2015 general election.  This represented the first change of government in 23 years.  The APNU campaigned on a platform of increased security and fighting drug and human trafficking.  The APNU won 50.3% of the votes and 33 seats in the National Assembly under the proportional representation system.  The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), led by former President Donald Ramotar won 49.19% of the votes and 32 seats in the National Assembly.  The 69-year old APNU leader David A. Granger was sworn in as President on 16 May 2015.  Voter turnout was 72.19%, with 412,012 of the 570,708 registered voters casting their ballots in the election.

President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo at the Swearing-in Ceremony in Guyana

Suriname

Incumbent President Desi Bouterse (69) and his National Democratic Party (NDP) won the general elections held on Monday, 25 May 2015 in Suriname.  The NDP won 26 of the 51 seats in the National Assembly and 45.5% of the votes. It was the first time in Suriname’s political history that a party that participated on its own has won the election.  The opposition V7 took 18 seats. A group called Alternative Combination won five seats, with the remaining two seats being shared between the  Party for Democracy and Development through Unity and Progressive Workers' and Farmers' Union. Voter turnout was 72.72%, with 259,030 of the 356,223 registered voters casting their ballots in the election.

President Desi Bouterse delivering his Inaugural Address in Suriname

British Virgin Islands

The incumbent National Democratic Party (NDP) of Premier Dr. Orlando Smith won the 8 June 2015 general election in the British Virgin Islands.  Constitutionally due in February 2016, the election was called eight months early.  There were 42 candidates contesting the elections including a record 12 women.  Premier Orlando Smith’s NDP won 11 out of 13 seats, an increase of two seats over the party’s majority win in 2011.  The NDP became the first party to win back-to-back elections in the British Virgin Islands in 16 years since the Virgin Islands Party did so in 1999.  The remaining two seats were won by Opposition the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) led for the first time by Julian Fraser.  The 2015 election saw the retirement of VIP leader, Ralph T. O'Neal - the territory’s first Premier - who had been in elective politics for 40 years.  The new People’s Empowerment Party led by Alvin Christopher failed to win a seat.  Election officials estimated that voter turnout was about 75 percent, with 34,365 votes cast.

New National Democratic Party Cabinet in British Virgin Islands with Premier Dr. Orlando Scott (right)

Trinidad and Tobago

The opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) party led by 65-year old geologist, Dr. Keith Rowley, won the 7 September 2015 general election in Trinidad and Tobago.  A total of 127 candidates contested the election for 17 different political parties, with another five running a independents.  The PNM won 51.68% of the votes and 23 seats – a gain of 11 seats - for control of the 41-seat parliament.  The incumbent one-term People’s Partnership (PP) coalition led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, won 18 seats, with her United National Congress (UNC) winning 17 and the Congress of the People (COP) winning one seat.  Voter turnout was 66.84%, with 734,792 of the 1,099,279 registered voters casting their ballots in the election.  Rowley, a veteran politician, was sworn in as the twin-island republic’s seventh Prime Minister on 9 September 2015.

Swearing in of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley in Trinidad and Tobago

Haiti

The first round of parliamentary elections in Haiti was held on 9 August 2015.  On 25 October 2015, Haiti held presidential, along with second-round legislative and municipal elections.  In the case of the presidential election, incumbent President Michel Martelly was constitutionally barred from running. As no candidate received a majority of the vote in the first round, a runoff was scheduled for 27 December 2015; however, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council postponed the December presidential runoff elections pitting government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse against Jude Célestin, the former head of the state-owned construction agency.  Also postponed were parliamentary runoffs and local elections.

Election Observer in Haiti

Belize

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has won an unprecedented third consecutive term in office in the 4 November 2015 general election in Belize that was called more almost two years early.  The previous general election was held in March 2012 and the next vote was constitutionally due in 2017.  Barrow’s United Democratic Party (UDP) won 19 of 31 seats in the House of Representatives, increasing its majority by two seats.  This represented 50.52% of the votes.  The main opposition People’s United Party (PUP) led by Francis Fonseca won the remaining 12 seats and 47.77% of the votes.  The fledgling Belize Progressive Party (BPP) led by Patrick Rogers, with 1.65% of the votes, failed to win any seats.  Voter turnout was 72.69%, with 142,900 of the 196,587 registered voters casting their ballots in the election.

Dean Barrow being sworn in for third term as Prime Minister in Belize

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

In a closely contested election, the incumbent Unity Labour Party (ULP), led by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves won a fourth term in office in the 9 December 2015 election.  The victory (still being contested by the opposition) represented a repeat of the results of the 2010 election with the ULP winning a similar one-seat majority, with eight of the seats in the 15-seat Parliament. The other seven went to the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) led by former Prime Minister Arnhim Eustace.  A total of 43 candidates contested the elections, with the ULP and NDP each contesting 15 seats.  The smaller SVG Green Party contested seven seats, and the fledgling Democratic Republican Party (DRP) contested six seats.  The official results indicated that ULP received 52.33% of the valid votes to the NDP’s 47.37%.  Voter turnout was 73.39%, with 65,706 of the 89,527 registered voters casting their ballots in the election.

View our St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2015 Election Centre »

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves being sworn in for fourth term as Prime Minister in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Towards 2016

Notwithstanding the possibility of snap elections, there are six constitutionally due elections in 2016.

Country Head of Government Term Last Election Next Election
Dominican Republic President Danilo MEDINA 4 years 20 May 2012 15 May 2016
Curacao Prime Minister Ivar ASJES 4 years 19 Oct 2012 Oct 2016
Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro GARCIA PADILLA 4 years 06 Nov 2012 6 Nov 2016
Saint Lucia Prime Minister Kenny ANTHONY 5 years 28 Nov 2011 Nov 2016*
Turks and Caicos Islands Premier Rufus EWING 4 years 08 Nov 2012 Nov 2016
Jamaica Prime Minister Portia SIMPSON MILLER 5 years 29 Dec 2011 Dec 2016*

*The outer limit for the election is within three months of the date of the first sitting of the new Parliament

In Memoriam 2015

In memoriam 2015

A reflection on the lives of those Caribbean leaders we've lost in 2015.

View our In Memoriam 2015 feature »

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