Focus: Anguilla general election 2020

By Philip Smith, philip.smith@fotbot.org

As a result of COVID-19 Anguilla has become one of the first countries to have had to postpone their General Election. What long term impact this will have on the local democratic institutions within Anguilla remains to be seen though we know the Anguillan people will rise to the occasion.

An Order in Council, facilitated by the UK’s Privy Council, was made to allow the elections to be postponed until 11 September at the latest. The Governor, Tim Foy, consulted with the Premier and Leader of the Opposition, as well as seeking agreement from the UK Government’s Minister for the Overseas Territories, Baroness Sugg.

How many seats are contested?

The 11 Seats of the House of Assembly consists of seven members elected in single-member constituencies by first past the post voting and four ‘at large’ members elected from the entire island by single non-transferable vote. The ‘at large’ members were previously appointed rather than elected.

Campaign

The current Premier is Victor Banks who leads the ruling center-right Anguilla United Front party. They won six of the seven elected seats in 2015, and will field a full slate of eleven candidates. Anguilla Progressive Movement – until 2015 the opposition party in government – led by Ellis Webster, and has also nominated eleven candidates, although they currently hold no seats.

The Anguilla United Front part formed as a coalition of two parties in the year 2000, and after that year’s election, they won power and formed the Anguillan government. Their 2015 landslide victory saw them secure 54.5% of the vote with a turnout of 73%, and left the Anguilla United Movement without any seats for the first time since their formation. The AUM rebranded as the Anguilla Progress Movement in 2019, taking in additional support from former AUF campaigners.

A third Party – DOVE – will also contest the 2020 election. DOVE currently does not hold any seats.

The campaign period for Anguilla is short – between three and six weeks. Informal campaigning kicks off much earlier, and AUF and APM held campaign launches at the end of 2019 to introduce their candidates. The election must be called by September, and on election day, each eligible person can vote once, and must dip their finger in electoral ink having marked their ballot.

Are there any independents?

Yes, the current Leader of the Opposition is the Honorable Pam Webster who won District 1, Island Harbour in 2015.

The 2015 General Election Results

Likely Campaign Issues (This list is not exhaustive)

Achieving Full Employment, Education improvements, Accessing improved Health Care, Financial Oversight of Government Expenditure, Rejuvenating the Fishing Industry, Law and Order.

Full manifestos have not yet been published for 2020.