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Politics Is Science, Even In The Virgin Islands

by Dickson Igwe
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Resident columnist Dickson Igwe

The Virgin Islands possesses its own unique political ecosystem. These paradise islands are a difficult place to predict political outcomes successfully.

Now, politics is correctly termed a social science, like its sibling economics. It has its own specific math. Politics possesses its own assumptions, based upon objective observation of past social behavior add current events.

Unlike the more physical sciences where there is high degree of exact assessment of various models, in political science, there is fog.

Politics uses history, demographics, economics, probability, assumption, presumption, statistics, and calculus, all the time using the laboratory of society and recent history to predict outcome.

Politics is also linear in that it looks back in time at past elections and voting behavior. Politics also gazes into the present. It looks both ways before crossing the road, and arriving at a prediction. There is both symmetry and asymmetry in the projections of political watchers. 

This Observer of Virgin Islands politics has learned the hard way that making the common assumptions derived from the older and larger democracies elsewhere, for the Virgin Islands, can be a huge mistake.

Then there is the prophetic. This is simple talk: palm reading and playing a game of Russian roulette. Nothing of substance has ever comes from this source. It is expecting answers from the Ouija board: ‘’ the witch doctor from Senegal.’’

  1. The Virgin Islands is a close-knit community with its own society, history and culture. Family and community play a greater role in the politics of the day than say the politics of the USA or UK. News gets around fast from family to village, and then community and town. The gossip mill is very powerful in deciding political outcomes.

An invisible news network of street corner talk and rumor driven by ‘’friends, extended family, siblings and cousins’’ is as powerful as the more conventional, visible, and established media in driving public opinion.

Predicting political outcomes in the Virgin Islands is a game of fools, even more so for April 24, 2023.

However, any attempt this April will offer three insights for those who appreciate a more scientific approach than emotion and fairytale.

First, there is a high degree of voter anger and frustration in the land, over recent political behavior. Second, the Commission of Inquiry and subsequent Order in Council are a hammer over the country, that makes everyone, politician, activist, and voter, more cautious. Third, ongoing investigations driven by the Commission’s recommendations put a shackle on those politicians accused of wrongdoing, running for office.  There is a limit to the promises and power of Julius Caesar, and voters know this.

Then there are the common factors with Virgin Islands Elections. District candidates over the years are safer than At-Large. However, there may be indications that this may change on April 24, 2023. The number one reason is voter frustration and anger.

Six hundred and eighty-eight (688) new voters added to the electoral roll may have an impact on the election outcome. Assuming a turnout of 16000, which appears optimistic, this number represents over 5% of voters. These new voters depending on turnout could compose a greater number in percentage terms of the total number of voters.

There is much talk of coalition government and there may be substance behind this. The fragmentation of the two party system – whether this will be- is worth observing on Monday and Tuesday.

How the preceding factors affect the upcoming election is anyone’s guess. From history, watch the At Large Vote. The At Large vote has been decisive as to which party forms the government. The At-large numbers also drive a narrative of the complete picture of the behavior of voters, and any swing away from the incumbents to another party.

So goes the At Large vote, so goes the election and government. Or so it would appear.

Dickson Igwe

Dickson Igwe

Dickson Igwe is an education official in the Virgin Islands. He is also a national sea safety instructor. He writes a national column across media and has authored a story book on the Caribbean: ‘The Adventures of a West Indian Villager’. Dickson is focused on economics articles, and he believes economics holds the answer to the full economic and social development of the Caribbean. He is of both West African and Caribbean heritage. Dickson is married with one son.


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