Last week’s landslide election win for the Progressive National Party (PNP) of the Turks and Caicos Islands reflects a recent trend in many Caribbean countries.
The PNP swept the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) from power just one seat short of a clean sweep.
Led by former Chief Minister Charles Washington Misick, the PNP won 14 of the 15 elected seats in the 21-member House of Assembly with victories in nine of the ten electoral districts.
It also took all five at-large seats including that of now-ex Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson.
It’s the latest in a series of dramatic election outcomes in the English-speaking Caribbean countries upsetting the equilibrium of the balance of power between government and opposition.
Except Guyana which uses the proportional representation voting system, elections in the Anglo-Caribbean are fought under the first-past-the-post outcome. Several of the British Overseas Territories also have a joint constituency and at-large representation.
In Anguilla last year, the opposition Anguilla Progressive Movement (APM) pushed the Anguilla United Front (AUF)of then-Premier Victor Banks out of office winning seven of the 11 seats.
The AUF won the other four but Mr Banks lost his seat. The new government is led by Premier Dr Ellis Webster.
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
Two years earlier in 2018, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), led by Gaston Browne came within two seats of a clean sweep across the twin-island state.
It defeated the United Progressive Party (UPP) by grabbing 15 of the 16 seats in Antigua - the UPP could only hold on to one seat.
The other seat in the smaller sister island Barbuda, was won by the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM).
In 2017 in the Bahamas, the Free National Movement with Hubert Innis at the helm secured 35 of the 39 seats, leaving the Progressive Liberal Movement with the other four.
The 2018 elections in Barbados saw the then-opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) record an absolute clean sweep over the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
Under the leadership of Mia Mottley, the BLP took all 30 seats in the country’s parliament, installing Mottley as the country’s first female Prime Minister.
It was a similar situation when Belize went to the polls last November. With 31 seats at stake, the People's United Party(PUP) won its first national election victory since 2003 taking 26 seats.
The incumbent United Democratic Party (UDP) got the other five seats, in its worst performance since 1998.
Turnout was over 81 per cent, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a tropical storm.
Last October saw a landslide for the ruling Progressive Labour Party (PLP) led by Premier David Burt. The PLP consolidated its hold on power by winning 30 seats to six for the One Bermuda Alliance.
The PLP had gone into the election with a 25-11 majority and snapped up another five from the OBA.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
The BVI also saw a major upset in its elections in 2019 with the Virgin Island Party (VIP) led by current Premier Andrew Fahie winning eight seats of the 13 seats.
The National Democratic Party (NDP) under since-retired Premier Dr Orlando Smith won only three seats, in the process losing eight of the 11 it won in 2015.
The other two seats went one each to the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement and the Progressives United Party.
It was also a landslide victory in Dominica in 2-19 when Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt and his ruling Dominica Labour Party held on to the reigns of power.
The DLP won 18 of the 21 elected seats, increasing its hold on power by three further seats with the three remaining seats going to the opposition United Workers Party (UWP).
It was a record fifth consecutive victory for the DLP.
In 2018, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell steered his incumbent New National Party (NNP) to another term in office with a resounding win.
It took all 15 seats leaving the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) without representation in Grenada’s parliament.
It was a repeat of the feat achieved twice before by the NNP; in 1999 and 2013.
The landslide trend was also evident in Jamaica last year when Prime Minister Andrew Holness called elections a year early and guided the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government to another term in office.
It increased its majority by capturing 49 of the 63 seats, confining the People's National Party (PNP) to another period in opposition with 16 fewer seats.
Voter turnout was only 37%, the lowest since 1983 due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic and a dengue outbreak.
ST KITTS AND NEVIS
Last year also saw elections in the twin-islands state of St Kitts and Nevis with another landslide for the governing team - a coalition called Team Unity.
The three-party alliance made up of parties from both islands won nine of the eleven constituencies giving Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris his second term.
The other two seats were won by the St Kitts Nevis Labour Party of former prime minister Denzil Douglas.
In the other countries, the outcome of elections has been particularly close, with a one-seat majority in Montserrat with the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) edging the People’s Democratic Movement(PDM) out of office.
Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines saw the respective ruling parties retain power by just three seats each.
In Trinidad, the People’s National Movement (PNM) led by Dr Keith Rowley kept the United National Congress at bay, while in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party had a slightly better outcome in 2020 with a three-seat win over the New Democratic Party (NDP). In the previous election, the ULP won by just one seat.
The odd one out was St Lucia in 2016 when the United Workers’ Party (UWP) led by current Prime Minister Allen Chastanet scored a decisive victory over the then-ruling St Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
The UWP won 11 seats of the 17 seats to 6 for the SLP.
Elections are due this year.
Unlike the Cayman Islands where independents and campaigning teams have traditionally dominated the political landscape, politics in the other Anglo-Caribbean countries is party-driven.
Cayman’s first established political party was the United Democratic Party (UDP) - now known as the Cayman Democratic Party (CDP) - formed in 2001 by then Leader of Government (now Speaker) McKeeva Bush in the aftermath of the 2000 general election.
Cayman goes to the polls in snap elections on April 14th - brought forward from May 26th - with the incumbent coalition-leading People’s Progressive Movement(PPM) seen as the main party political unit.
The PPM is led by outgoing Premier Alden McLaughlin, who is completing his second consecutive term under the jurisdiction’s constitution which limits leadership tenure.
Mr McLaughlin who seek to retain his parliamentary seat, has designated Finance Minister Roy McTaggart to take over the party’s leadership.
The Cayman Islands government has been an alliance of the PPM and several independents, with the support of McKeeva Bush’s CDP.