Montserrat gears up ready for the polls on November 18

On the day the Montserrat Governor was obliged to dissolve the Legislative Assembly, Premier Donaldson Romeo announced November 18 as the date for general election.


Sarah Cooper-Lesadd

11/13/20192 min read

On the day the Montserrat Governor was obliged to dissolve the Legislative Assembly, Premier Donaldson Romeo announced November 18 as the date for general election. However, less than 48 hours after announcing the election to voters, his own party was thrown into disarray as Premier Donaldson Romeo was replaced as the leader of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM). An election was held on Tuesday to review PDM’s leadership position which delivered a decisive result and installed the Minister for Communications, Works, Energy and Labour, Paul Lewis as its leader and candidate to fight the opposition in the upcoming elections.

In 2014, the PDM defeated the then ruling Movement for Change & Prosperity (MCAP), the Alliance of Independent for Candidates and 10 independents. In the upcoming poll, the incumbent government are expected to face tough challenges from MCAP, Montserrat United Labour Party (MULP), Montserrat National Congress (MNC) and the Alliance of Independent Candidates. However, the incumbent government has already faced its greatest challenge, having struggled to complete its first five year term. Last October, Romeo survived a motion of no confidence with the government clinging onto a slim one-seat majority in the Legislative Assembly with the support of Hogan.

The PDM will fight the election on a platform of sustainability principles and is committed to its sustainable development plan and with the support of DfID, the project will run from 2008-2020. The party is committed to sustaining on-going work with DfID, prioritising infrastructure projects and hopes that by building houses and fixing roads, this will deliver the much needed prosperity for the island territory. Meanwhile, tourism development is a key priority for the Movement for Change & Prosperity, who remain committed to the third phase of a tourism development plan. The tourism development plan will look at attracting thousands more tourists a year by means of introducing lower taxes for hotels and restaurants and creating a diverse tourist sector including for high end and budget conscious travellers. Meanwhile, the Alliance of Independent Candidates have committed to straightening human capital, financial capital, social and physical capital and is sceptical of the existing approach to economic development which relies on the expatriate community and is committed to rooting out inequality.

With all parties gearing up for a tough fight for the island’s premiership, the result will be close and will depend on its 3,866 registered voters. With a population of just over 5,200 inhabitants, the election result now falls to fewer than 4,000 citizens who are registered to vote, after the population halved due to the eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano. Turnout peaked at just under 75% in both 1996 and 2001, and has been in decline ever since the 2009 election and the 2014 election saw a return to previous levels with an increase to 71%. The election will be overseen by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association who will conduct an election observation mission. The mission will observe the election process and meet with key stakeholders including officials, candidates and members of the public. The election will be observed against international standards and domestic laws by seven international observers. Initial findings will be published after the election with the final report including recommendations published two months later.

The election is expected to be very closely contested and as parties continue along the campaign trail, votes are expected to be cast on November 18, with the results announced shortly after. With just over a week to wait, we will know on 18th if the People’s Democratic Movement have been successful, or if the opposition have just enough to sneak ahead of the government. Let’s wait to find out what will happen.