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Term Limits for Premier & Deputy & recall provision recommended in CRC Report

The Constitutional Review Commission Report has recommended not only that the Premier and Deputy Premier come from the At Large pool of elected officials, but that they have term limits. Photo: VINO/File
Political scientists have posited that recall provisions could lead to political instability, going against the will of the people in a democracy after they have voted and allowing those who oppose the winning elected Member to remain in a constant battle. Photo: VINO/File
Political scientists have posited that recall provisions could lead to political instability, going against the will of the people in a democracy after they have voted and allowing those who oppose the winning elected Member to remain in a constant battle. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Report, which is now a public document, is making the rounds on social media and in the news. Many of the recommendations, like those of the one-man Commission of Inquiry, seem to have their "eyes only on the political class."

The report recommends not only that the Premier and Deputy Premier come from the At Large pool of elected officials, but that they have term limits. This again is unusual in Westminster forms of Government.

While the Commissioners suggested that the issue of Terms Limits could go to a referendum, the Commission recommended: “that in the event that a decision is made that the positions of Premier and Deputy Premier be voted for directly, the Commission would recommend that consideration be given to implementing term limits for holding such offices.”

Additionally, the Commission recommended that elected officials should be recalled. This flies in the face of democratic principles, as the people would have decided at the ballot box. The Constitutional Review Commission recommended that legislation should be enacted to provide a recall mechanism and section 67(3) of the Constitution to include circumstances where a Member of the House of Assembly (HoA)  has been recalled as an additional ground for vacating his or her seat in the HoA.

Recall members of the HoA

According to the report, the recall legislation should define grounds on which a recall mechanism can be triggered and include serious breaches of the Code of Conduct prescribed by the Integrity in Public Life Act 2021 as a ground for recall.

Further recommended by the Commissioners is to ensure that the threshold for signatures needed to initiate the recall process is sufficiently high to make recall the last resort, not the norm; and establish a ‘safe harbour period’ after assumption of office before recall mechanisms can be initiated. This is to give elected representatives adequate time to deliver on promises.

The Commissioners also stated that the recall mechanism should be designed with the following considerations; striking a balance between giving elected representatives freedom to perform their jobs and make difficult decisions when necessary and holding them to account when they do not maintain certain standards of conduct.

A majority of political scientists who have studied this matter have posited that recall provisions could lead to political instability, going against the will of the people in a democracy after they have voted and allowing those who oppose the winning elected Member to remain in a constant battle. In other words, they could not beat them at the ballot box, so the recall mechanism could be the only way.

18 Responses to “Term Limits for Premier & Deputy & recall provision recommended in CRC Report”

  • 2024 (07/02/2024, 10:21) Like (20) Dislike (2) Reply
    the premier of the territory must be a candidate and the people must vote for(whom we want to be the leader of this place)

    running for the premier should be an independent process(put all names in that hat) and the people will speak at the poles

    no political party should be nominating our leader; those days have done

    we need a substantial change in the political process as we move forward
  • meh (07/02/2024, 10:24) Like (26) Dislike (8) Reply
    They need to recall the entire BVI, take it from the hands of these supreme incompetent idiots that currently run the BVI and it’s never progressing movement for decades and ENSURE they are unable to ever regain control.

    No country should be ran by a group of super idiots. It’s inane.
  • ASKING (07/02/2024, 10:42) Like (1) Dislike (6) Reply
    Who were the members of this commission?
    • To Asking (07/02/2024, 14:57) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
      If you are only now asking who the members are, you really have not been paying attention.
  • GPM (07/02/2024, 10:54) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    "seem to have their "eyes only on the political class." Is the writer living under a rock? A lot of our country's issues starts with the "Political Class". The amount of unaccountability they've had is astounding. This should only be the start as many more changes are needed.
  • BUSY BEE (07/02/2024, 11:05) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    "This flies in the face of democratic principles"???
    If "the people" petition successfully for a recall election, is that not grass-roots democracy in action? How does the will of the people fly in face of democracy again?
    Maybe the author went to the Trump School of Political Science.
  • jack@$$ (07/02/2024, 11:29) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    If the most popular at large vote getter is premier and their party only wins 3 seats then who should run the country? A lameduck popularly picked premier with no party power? Would Mather, Smith, Walcott, O'Neal, DeCastro have been ready for premiership in the years they were the most popular at large candidates? I think we know they wouldn't have been.
    Also term limits is for big nations like the U.S.A. where they have millions of people in their resource pool. This is nothing but sour grapes. If the people of the district want a particular person every election let it be so until they are unwanted. If they are doing enough good to be re-elected repeatedly it is bc they are beating the other johnny come lately candidates. Why penalize the entire district to appease some sour grapes election losers.

    I think those recommendations are nonsense b/c they don't account for every situation are reactionary. And the ReCall thing is dangerous and terrible, there is already a solution for that, vote them out when election comes around again.
  • Native Senior Citizen of the British Virgin Islands (07/02/2024, 12:04) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    Hallelujah! Thinks are about to get better, we hope that they will sooner rather than later for all the people of the BVI, friends and visit, too, God's willing.

    Though some persons will reject the CRC reported recommendations for selfish reasons, the majority, if not all, of them are overwhelmingly positive, if we are seriously about better governance for the people of the BVI, that are natives, residents, belongers, visitors, and friends.of this British Overseas Territory, namely: British Virgin Islands.
    The CoI recommendations demand changes,especially from local political manipulation, unjust hand outs of moneys to special interest persons for political you-wash-hand-I wash-your and suchlike.

    Changes is daily reality of how to improve peoples lives worldwide. Why not the same in the BVI. However, only good changes for the betterment of all our people should be rival against.

    We are now living in the 21st Century AD, the third decade, February 7, 2024. Reformation of especially our political mindset must not allowed to continue in the same manner, if better governance is to be a experience by the people that has been, and still are suffering injustice.

    Constitution Reformation now, independence status, when that time comes.
  • The People's Remedy.. (07/02/2024, 12:10) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wisdom would say that both the speaker and the Premier should be a Territorial vote...That's what should be in the constitution...If Majority of the people wants "A" To be Premier and "B" to be speaker for life and voted for that. So shall it be...Or if Majority want them out after one term, so shall it be....The key to good Governance is an Elected s0eaker of the house...Let the Premier selects both deputies both for speaker and Premier..
  • Citizen (07/02/2024, 12:36) Like (2) Dislike (6) Reply
    These bad minded commissioners just mad because they could never get elected but I sure they give the slave masters ie governors a pass
  • AND? (07/02/2024, 13:39) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    The BVI must transition to the authentic feature of true DEMOCRACY, where from Governership down to senators all must be elected.

    It is an insult to the intelligence, the UN charters and human dignity of these islands to live under the rule of an imperialist nation and person.

    The people of this territory are beyond capable of ruling themselves.

    Those who are using the notion of corruption to negate the people's human rights are also not in understanding of democratic principles.

    There are two camps of political inds in this territory 1) the ones who want to remain insignficant subjects to an imperielist system and 2) those who yearn for and to rule themselves because they can.

    They country must become free and begin to chart its own course and destiny.
  • Native Senior Citizen of the British Virgin Islands (07/02/2024, 13:54) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    Balance is necessary for our bodies to function properly, same does better management of our finances politically but the politicians that have been chosen to our finances. The CRC has only recommend a fairer way how we should try to better manage our limit finances,especially by those we have untrusted with managerial power, politicians, so that our Constitution guidelines will be more acceptable, and the gap between the rich and poor would not be as far as the East from the West our from the Earth to the Moon, financial, so to Speak.
    As things are now, radical political, economical changes of the way our Country is being run is unacceptable to about approximately 90% or greater of the people that regularly live in the BVI suffer: 1. mostly because of political mismanagement of our finances: 2 high prices of basic needs:. 3. Stupid spending, etc.
    Truth is seemingly a hard pill to swallow, but after been swallowed, the healing process.begins. let the healing begin.

  • Citizen (07/02/2024, 14:18) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Now that we the people are getting to know what is in the COI. Report, the British Government is trying to destablelise this territory. Many are undemocratic. Those things do not happen in England and will never happen there. They have not been helping us . They just want to take.. Did they recall a bad Primeminister? Did they do a COI on their Parliment? No .But they did a one man COi on this country in the middle of a Pandemic. The governor who called that did nothing for this country when he was here. Maybe he should be investigated.
  • justice for all (07/02/2024, 14:26) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Here is a post which should of been used as a model for elections going forward.

    at large system of government

    Over the past weeks there have been a flurry of commentary in the press concerning possible elections in early 2023.

    There were a number of interesting areas mentioned, from lack of confidence for party leaders to the thought provoking topic of removing the at large system all together from the election process.

    The at large system is interesting in that it has shaped our political landscape over the past years. It was first introduced by the UK to affect the then Lavity Stoutt VIP administration. Although it took a while to be used effectively in counteracting the in district aspect of elections, it also took a dark turn and was utilized by future administrations to use popular vote as the basis for winning an election. One thing that has been obvious is that neither systems have been effective enough to satisfy the needs of the populace and more so the needs of local indigenous British Virgin Islanders.

    The greatest downfall of the at large system in its current application is that it only adds numbers to assist in getting the right amount of candidates to win election but it doesn’t ensure synergy between the candidates and the portfolios that are filled after election therefore making the probability for an effective government to diminish.

    After reviewing the information in the blogs over the past few weeks addressing the state of BVI politics, here is my suggestion for a more effective system. Feel free at the end to criticize dismiss or give suggestions which you feel are more fitting.

    First of all the BVI is a very tiny territory. It is not a country but a colony of England. Despite that, the BVI does enjoy a certain level of autonomy over the past years and acts in a similar manner as an independent country. I firmly believe that the at large system is not working but it can be structured in a way that can make it a feasible mechanism for change in a positive way. As part of our constitutional review I would like to see us consider the following. We should keep the 9 seats in district but add another 2 seats for Anegada and Jost Van Dyke respectively. Additionally Virgin Gorda has grown in development and population to the point where it can now have 2 seats in government. So another seat would have to be created which would bring the total in district seats to 12. I also suggest that we raise the amount of at large seats from 4 to the following 7:

    Premier / Minister of Finance
    Minister of Tourism and Culture
    Minister of Education
    Minister of Communications and works
    Minister of Health
    Minister of Natural Resources and Labor
    Speaker of the House

    What I am suggesting is that the premier does not represent a district instead he or she represents the country and the same argument holds for the Labour minister or any of the other ministers who represents the entire population, not a district, class or creed of people in the British Virgin Islands.

    What a system such as the one described above would do, is it adds relevance to at large candidates and would force political parties to choose candidates wisely not only by popularity but also the skill set that they have as it relates to the portfolio for which each candidate is vying. In essence if put in place the voting public should be able to look at the candidates to see if each candidate in their mind is (a) qualified to hold the post which he or she is vying for or (b) have the maturity or demeanor in carrying out the position.

    I am a firm believer that 5 ministries are not enough and as a tourist destination, Tourism should have its own ministry and should be peered with culture. Although Tourism doesn’t generate the revenue of the financial services sector I still believe it is the most important pillar of our economy and has been neglected for far too long.

    Notice that I also believe the speaker of the house should be voted at large.

    Also the public should have the right to call for a no confidence vote on any elected member if he or she fails to perform their duties or abuse their power in office. In the words of or great former leader Lavity Stoutt “he who appoints can also disappoint.”

    I will not speak on who should make up the opposition because I think that if a system as described above were to be considered it would make it easier to devise a system for an opposition.

    One of the arguments you would hear from elected officials is that the premier has never been voted at large before and each winning party should reserve the right to choose their premier. My answer to this is that the president of the United States is voted by all the states and the same system occurs all over the world and if it is our aspirations to be like leading countries around the world shouldn’t we follow suit?

    Another argument would be that by implementing such a system you can end up with a composition of multiple parties forming the government and they may not be willing or able to work together as each party have different goals. My answer to this is BVI is a very small county of which indigenous BV Islanders are already in the minority and that number keeps shrinking day by day as we attend funerals every week as our people continue to die and get phased out of a country that our forefathers built that we have allowed to slip through our hands by keeping each other down. The BVI is too small for individuals elected by the public not to work together for the greater good of the country. Don’t you want to see a society where everyone is given an opportunity to work, have improved infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, roads, access to safe and clean drinking water, world class telecommunications, reasonable power supply with use of fossil fuel and alternative energy sources, sporting facilities, year round tourism, embracing foreign investment, dialogue with USVI to support the BVI economy the way we support their economy which would give significant meaning to friendship day. These should be the type of goals an elected official elected by the public at large should be striving towards for the benefit of the country.

    In closing, for far too long politicians have been using the votes of naive poor people to enriching themselves.
    We the public need to say enough is enough. We need to be a part of the decision making process that determines who our representatives will be and to hold them accountable as we cannot continue to suffer as we flip flop parties in and out that do nothing in the interest of the public. Take a drive from East End to West End and look at the infrastructure in the territory and ask yourself has there been any true development in the BVI in the past 20 years.
  • GateKeeper (07/02/2024, 14:53) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    IMO the jury is still out on the value and effectiveness of term limits for political elected members. The VI employs a Westminister system of government and is a representative democracy. Eligible voters heads to the polls every four years(4)to elect 13 members ( 9 Districts, 4 At Large) to represent them in the HoA. Consequently, as long as members are mentally, physically able to do the job, rock effectively represent, how long they stay in the HoA should be up to voters. Voters are the key, the driver of term limits. They elect members and they should play an integral part in removing them when and if needed. Voters must get engaged in public affairs, government operations, etc., ie, rewarding elected members for outstanding, exemplary, etc performance, ie, election,, reelection; poor performers, on the other hand, should be kicked to the curb. Elected members should and must earn election and election. No Retired on Duty folks. This brings us to recalling elected members.

    Undoubtedly, there must be recalled mechanisms in place to recall elected members. However, the recall mechanisms cannot be only bureaucratic mechanisms but must include voter recall mechanism(s). For example, a process must be available for voters to engineer a recall of a district or at large member by collecting a reasonable, specific number of signatures of voters who partake in the last election in which the member was elected. It is a democracy which means of the people, by the people, and for the people. The words must be more than words on a paper. Let’s put democracy in active action.

    • @GateKeeper (07/02/2024, 20:41) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      &GateKeeper, a point of clarification on voter initiated recall. If you did not vote in the election in which the member was ekected, you cannot sign the recall petition.. Fair enough. Who will verify the signatures of the signees?
  • Sounding good so far. (07/02/2024, 15:00) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    I agree with most of these changes.
  • my2cents (07/02/2024, 23:32) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    This report needs to go in the dumb it’s crap

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