BVI voters choose new government

Andrew Fahie is territory’s new premier

British Virgin Islands Premier-elect Andrew Fahie

The former opposition Virgin Islands Party won eight of the 13 legislative seats in the British Virgin Islands during Monday’s elections, unseating a National Democratic Party that had controlled government there since 2011.

The VIP’s victory makes Andrew Fahie the BVI’s new premier. Mr. Fahie replaces Orlando Smith, who has retired from office after serving as the territory’s premier for a stint in the mid-2000s, and then again from 2011 to January.

Cayman’s Premier Alden McLaughlin said he developed a close bond with Mr. Smith as the two political leaders faced similar challenges internationally over the years.

“He and I are quite close because he’s been around a while, too. He’s a good man,” Mr. McLauglin said. “He’s soft-spoken, perhaps not as hard-hitting as some would expect a politician to be, but I found him to be a very decent guy over the years.”

Mr. Fahie campaigned on reducing government waste and improving transparency. According to The BVI Beacon, he promised to start working to pass freedom of information, ethics, and whistleblower protection laws within six months of taking office. The new BVI premier has not publicly articulated how he will handle the territory’s relationship with the United Kingdom.

The BVI faces similar challenges with the U.K. and the European Union as Cayman, including being potentially blacklisted by the EU and being subject to the U.K.’s beneficial ownership rules. The BVI was also a subject of the U.K. Foreign Affairs Committee report calling for British Overseas Territories to legalize same-sex marriage and expand voting rights to British citizens.

“I’ll say nothing right now until I get to the office to see what else is there because usually those reports just don’t fall out of the sky. There are usually other correspondences that came to the government before. If that is so, I have to read them and see where do I chart my course from there,” Mr. Fahie said of the report, according to BVI News. “In most of these decisions, we have to call the people of the Virgin Islands and ask them what do they think about the same-sex marriage. We have to hold discussions with the people.”

The other seven seats won by the VIP are occupied by political newcomers, as none of the new government legislators previously held office.

The incumbent NDP, which won 11 of the 13 seats in 2015, only retained three seats this time around. Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the election was the ousting of NDP leader Myron Walwyn, who received the most votes in the territory’s history as an at-large candidate in 2015.

Former health minister Ronnie Skelton also lost his seat, as did former deputy premier Kedrick Pickering.