Over 6,000 All Island Votes up for Grabs; more voters, less candidates
#TurksandCaicos, February 17, 2021 – There are nearly 900 or 11 percent more voters registered to participate in this upcoming general election and there are many more votes up for grabs, at least 5,000, due to a reduced number of political parties contesting in the 2021 national poll.
Historically, governance in the Turks and Caicos Islands volleys back and forth between the two main political engines: the People’s Democratic Movement, PDM and the Progressive National Party, PNP.
Once again, the All Island district is a formidable race with five individuals nominated per party and eight independents offering At Large.
With no PPP or PDA in the picture, and if voter turn-out remains in the 80 percent range, there are literally thousands of votes available to the candidates hoping to be among the five most popular.
In 2016, some 29,233 votes were cast in the At Large district or category, of which 5,069 were spent on the 11 candidates nominated either with the PDA (4) or Independent (7).
Leading the All Island candidates for two consecutive general elections was Sharlene Robinson; who in 2016 became the country’s first woman premier. Robinson, as PDM leader drew 3,204 votes; which was actually 223 votes less than the previous run off in 2012.
Robinson also outdistanced the second finisher in 2012 by more votes than in 2016, where Josephine Connolly was within five votes of the popular Sharlene Robinson. In 2012, Rufus Ewing was second popular and was bested by Mrs. Robinson with 175 more electors giving her the nod.
In 2016, Josephine Connolly, now starring on the PNP ticket after defecting from the PDM, had lost very little ground with 3,023 votes recorded in 2012 and 3,019 votes in 2016; a mere four point difference. It reflects a steady showing for Connolly, who is striving for a third term in office.
Hugely popular Derek Taylor slumped between 2012 and 2016 by 451 votes. Taylor, a former chief minister secured 3,191 votes in 2012 and 2,740 electors supported him in the 2016 election. The question is, does this senior statesman have what it takes to cross the finish line in at least fifth place to serve again?
Karen Malcolm comes from a mighty clan and this kind of national popularity is believed to have been the main impetus for her in a cushy fourth place overall for All Island in 2016. It was Malcolm’s first bid for elected office as a PDM candidate, earning 2,725 votes.
The 2016 fifth All Island Candidate was one of four PNP members who held onto a seat after a crushing defeat to the PDM on December 15 that year.
Also a former chief minister, Washington Misick suffered a steep fall in popularity securing 772 less votes in 2016, than in the previous election where he was well over 3,000 votes. Barely getting through with a mere 21 votes over the sixth place finisher, Misick assumed Leader of Opposition business in the House of Assembly with the resignation of Rufus Ewing as PNP Leader. By 2019, the Progressive National Party returned C. Washington Misick officially to the helm.
Noteworthy for the PNP is that two of the former independents, who between them secured over 2,400 votes are at the forefront of the 2021 General Election campaign.
Jas Walkin is the PNP’s Campaign Manager; in 2016 Walkin had support from 834 electors.
Michael Misick, former premier for the PNP had 1,629 voters cast ballots in his support of his bid, though he was embroiled in a corruption trial. The trial, due to the passing of Justice Paul Harrison earlier this month, is on shaky ground. Its future will be known by March 1, 2021.
As for which political party will claim victory and steer the Turks and Caicos over the next four years, that is difficult to say. Grassroots members from both sides contend it will be a landslide in their party’s favor, laced with upsets and shockers.
Swing voters and more neutral observers agree that it will be a tight race which is threatened both by possible voter apathy and fears linked to Covid-19.
Turks and Caicos general elections are Friday February 19; polls open from 7am to 9pm with times varying based on island and one’s category as voter.
Photo Caption: TCI Elections office, voter simulation exercise and explainer video 2021.
National Security, Housing; issued broached by TCI Premier at Freeport Diaspora Meeting
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, February 24, 2023
The issue of insufficient housing must be addressed, admitted TCI Premier, if there is to be a population boom in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The country’s leader was hosting his second diaspora meeting in The Bahamas; this time in Freeport, Grand Bahama amidst an immigration push to attract third-generation Turks and Caicos Islanders.
“The need for housing is expanding so rapidly that we estimate we’re going to need around 600 houses per year for the foreseeable future,” he explained.
The announcement came within weeks of bi-lateral exchange between Jamell Robinson, the TCI Minister of Physical Planning, and Infrastructure Development and JoBeth Colby-Davis, Bahamian Minister of Transport and Housing.
The Premier described the potential of a housing shortage as a point of serious concern for his government.
“In inviting people from the diaspora to come to TCI and this is my greatest fear, the shortage of accommodation”
Turks and Caicos Islanders are well aware of the issue, having complained bitterly for years about the shortage in land and housing and subsequent high costs for rent.
The housing policy of the Turks and Caicos Islands is literally, ‘under construction’ along with the new Crown Land Recommendations which are ready to be written into law. Both emphasize the building of turnkey-ready apartment-like homes in areas identified as suited for building properly outfitted communities.
It has been strongly intimated, accomplishing this, would enable the government to slow down the sale of what little Crown Land remains and modernize the living conditions for the thousands of residents often subjected to sub-par residential living.
Sharing National Security Database
As the Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas deepen their connection, some fear criminals will use the countries as escape routes; hopping from one island to the other perpetrating offences and dodging authorities. Premier of the Turks and Caicos, Washington Misick, was challenged about the notion and aimed to allay those fears at a diaspora meeting in Grand Bahama on February 18th.
The Premier shared that the Governments had already recognized this as an issue and information sharing would be set up in tangible ways to put a wrench in the current “ease with which people can hide away in the TCI , and people from our country can hideaway in the Bahamas and shield themselves from the law.”
“One thing we have been working on, is to be able to have our shared database and other information with the Turks and Caicos islands, and the Bahamas security and Police Force” he said
He also maintained that the influx of TC Bahamians was not responsible for the increase in crime.
“The last spike that we had here was a TI Bahamian, who was involved in the but it wouldn’t be fair to say that is the reason. We’ve had a number of Turks and Caicos Bahamians who have gotten themselves in trouble, but that is probably no more other people from different countries”
He referenced the case of Brandon Rahming, whom he said, as he understood it, had been wanted in The Bahamas before he entered the Turks and Caicos participating, what Police believed was a gang-fuelled killing spree.
“I know of situations where people have skipped bail and come to The Bahamas as well” he said. The country leader emphasized that collaboration was ongoing, even now, to fix the security gaps between two countries.
Covid-19 Update for Turks & Caicos
#TurksandCaicos, January 23, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos recorded seven new Covid-19 cases in the period from January 8th to 14th pushing the county’s total active infections to 18. Four of the seven new cases were in Providenciales and three were recorded in the nation’s capital Grand Turk.
There were six recoveries during the period and the current death toll remains at 38.
Skerrit holds on as Dominica Prime Minister, Snap Elections decimates the Opposition UWP
By Deandrea Hamilton and Dana Malcolm
#Dominica, December 7, 2022 – The big story of the night was not that Roosevelt Skerrit and his Dominican Labour Party were able to hold onto electoral power in Dominica, but that independents caused an upset, denying the DLP a sweep of all 21 seats.
The snap election victory proved not to be a snap for Skerrit, who on a social media aired radio show congratulated the two independent candidates now holding seats in parliament.
Skerrit’s DLP was still unable to sway the constituents of Marigot and Salisbury; they continue to prefer other political options and this time, Anthony S. Charles won the Marigot constituency with 491 votes, securing – unofficially – a popular vote of 59.44 per cent.
Jesma Paul won with 617 votes with a voting turnout of 57.13 per cent and Lynsia Frank of DLP lost, receiving 463 votes 42.87 per cent from the Salisbury Constituency.
In a sixth consecutive political victory, the Dominical Labour Party gained one seat over their 2019 finish. With a notable boundary change, the DLP took Rousea Central which had last time gone to the now, decimated UWP.
Elections are due every five years in Dominica; this election should have technically been held in 2024, however, Skerrit last month called the General Election early.
As prime minister he has the prerogative to call for an election anytime within the constitutionally mandated timeframe. Still, the early call and boycott of the process by unprepared political parties drew in two election observer teams.
One from CARICOM, the other from the OAS.
Organization of American States dispatches team led by former Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie after concerns were voiced by residents and opposition members on the snap election called by Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to be held on December 6th the country’s leaders invited the Organisation of American States to witness the elections.
The OAS spoke to local media after ballots closed around 5pm explaining that for the most part they had not observed any questionable practices.
Perry Christie, former Bahamian Prime Minister who was part of the 16-person team told reporters
“We are aware of the extent to which there was concern about the electoral process. And or job simply is to make a report and recommendations all with the intention of advancing the democracy of this region— we are generally finding that the facilities are adequate, [though] there are one or two recommendations we will make.”
There were 15 seats up for contention since the ruling Dominica Labour Party was elected unopposed in five seats across the country as the main opposition party the United Workers’ Party boycotted the elections.
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