The Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. They became the possession of Great Britian in 1666 when the English Planters took control from the Dutch settlers and have been a British colony since 1672. The Virgin Islands became a Territory on July 1, 1956 and is currently a British Overseas Territory which falls under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom (UK).
The Constitution of the Virgin Islands provides for a Cabinet comprising the Premier, four (4) Ministers and an Attorney General (ex-officio member). The Premier is the head of government.
Elections are governed by two authorities; the Elections Act and Amendments and the Virgin Islands Constitution Order. The Elections Act was introduced in 1994 with amendments in 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2011. The Virgin Islands Constitution was introduced in 1976 with amendments in 1979, 1982, 1991, 1994, 2000 and 2007. Prior to 1976 the Constitution Order was referred to as The Virgin Islands (Emergency Powers) Order 1967.
In the Virgin Islands, a House of Assembly is elected territory wide. The executive consists of Her Majesty and a House of Assembly. Authority of the Virgin Islands shall be vested in Her Majesty. The House of Assembly (formerly called the Legislative Council prior to 2007) consists of fifteen (15) members; thirteen (13) elected representatives for a four year term, nine (9) of whom are electoral district representatives and four (4) as territorial-at-large representatives, the Attorney General (non-voting, ex officio member ) and one elected speaker. The Speaker presides over the sittings of the House. A recommended member of the Opposition, chosen by members of the opposition, is appointed by the Governor to serve as Leader of the Opposition.
General Elections are constitutionally due every four (4) years. Candidates are nominated on Nomination Day with Advance Poll and Poll Day shortly thereafter. Candidates contesting the elections do so as members of a party or as independent. If at any time within the four year term an elected representative relinquishes office or dies, a By-Election will be held to fill the vacancy and replace the member in the House of Assembly. The need for an election sooner than four years can result if the ruling party requests, or if the ruling party or coalition seems to have lost its ability to control the Government.
Persons are eligible to become registered voters at age eighteen (18) on the submission and approval of an application. Only persons who are belongers of the Virgin Islands can be approved as registered voters. A registered voter can vote for up to five (5) candidates on Advance Polling Day and Polling Day (one (1) vote in the local electoral district and four (4)votes in the territorial-at-large district). In a local electoral district, only voters registered in that district and at a particular polling station can vote there.
National Democratic Party
Virgin Islands Party
Progressive Virgin Islands Movement
A handbook providing laws and guidelines for persons that has an interest to be a candidate in the General Elections of the British Virgin Islands. Click here to download.
*This map shows an approximation of the district boundaries.