For a non-belonger like me, the campaign signs are the only part of election season particularly relevant to me. My work permit status, unsurprisingly, does not carry with it the right to vote. I have recently heard a little bit of rhetoric from candidates on the radio, suggesting that all non-belongers should be expelled from the BVI, in order to allow belongers to take their jobs. The economics of this proposition make it extremely unlikely, however, as the government garners far too much revenue from non-belonger work permit fees.
In a territory with a population estimated around 27,000, there are approximately 11,000 registered voters, divided into nine districts. Each district elects one member of the legislative council, which also has four at-large seats, voted on by all voters.
Stakes are high in this year's election. The UK has recently indicated that if the BVI government can't get it together, the UK may require all budgets be submitted to the UK government for review before being passed by the BVI government. Very few BVI-islanders want this kind of intervention, and so the incumbent VIP (Virgin Islands Party) is placed in the awkward position of justifying their continuing in power, having led the BVI to this potential consequence.
The opposition NDP (National Democratic Party) seems to be reveling in pointing out the incompetence of the VIP in budgetary matters, but unlike the VIP, has not yet released their "manifesto", being the written version of the party's platform.
Long-time BVI residents say they are impressed by the unusually high numbers of independent or third-party candidates that seem to be doing quite well pre-election. Many, though, are disillusioned by the entire election process, claiming that the only noticeable difference between governments is in who is awarded the government contracts. The general belief is that contract corruption runs high.
VI News online has a page dedicated to ongoing coverage of the BVI elections, for those interested in learning more.