By Mike Jarvis, UK Correspondent
The Movement for Change and Prosperity(MCAP) has been swept back into office in Montserrat in the British territory’s general election on Monday November 18th.
MCAP, led by veteran politician Easton Taylor-Farrell, swept past the incumbent People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) led by that party’s recently elected leader Paul Lewis, the losing PDM’s administration’s minister of communications works, labour and energy.
The victorious party secured five of the nine seats, PDM held on to three, with the other going to former premier and PDM leader, Donaldson ‘Don’ Romeo, who retained a seat for himself as an independent.
Taylor-Farrell, minister of agriculture in the 2009-2014 MCAP government, and who took over the MCAP leadership at a party convention last November, was victorious over his younger opponent who himself only recently became PDM’s leader.
Lewis was selected to head PDM following an internal leadership tussle just weeks before the elections saw Donaldson ‘Don’ Romeo kicked off his leadership perch by a conclusive 6-2 margin just two days after he had announced the election date.
If Mr Romeo was seen as a political liability, Mr Lewis however failed to translate that internal unseating of his erstwhile leader into a victory at the polls on Monday.
Romeo who subsequently quit the PDM he led to victory over MCAP at its first outing in 2014, ran as an independent and retained his parliamentary seat with an impressive 4th placing overall.
He was only eclipsed by MCAP’s Taylor-Farrell - the incoming premier - in third place, PDM’s Lewis in second, and relative newcomer Crenston Buffonge of MCAP, the highest vote-getter.
Thirty-five candidates spread across four parties and including ten independents ran for the nine seats in Montserrat’s unicameral Legislative Assembly.
Turnout was surprisingly low at 62% in the hotly - and is some instances very aggressively - contested poll.
Campaigning mainly revolved around a series of relatively recent announcements by the British government and the European Union of a combination of aid packages totalling around $US 74 million for a several long-delayed infrastructural projects.
They include a new hospital, improved sea port, and the relaying of an undersea fibre optic cable link.
Elections in Montserrat are contested on a single-constituency/one-person-nine-votes system.
That was put in place after the island lost two-thirds of its habitable landspace and most of its communities (half of its population relocated overseas) following of a series of catastrophic volcanic eruptions between 1995 and 2010.