I love the electoral process in the United States and one of those processes I like is that the election date is fixed. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, the election date is not fixed. The incumbent Government has the right to choose any date for election which in turn provides them with a political advantage. There were instances when the incumbent Government called a snap election and caught the opposition off guard and there are instances in which the incumbent Government delays calling the election to build momentum and to complete last minute projects.
I believe that like the USA and the UK, we should have a fixed date for election so that the date is publicly known well in advance and also for fairness and transparency. By having a fixed date, the incumbent Government will not be able to manipulate the process. It will also remove the surprise element away from the election date and it will not keep people in suspense. The election date should not be controlled by one person. Based on our present constitution, only the Premier knows the date of our next election.
Turks and Caicos Islands Election dates
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, general elections were held on September 29th 1976, November 4th 1980, May 29th 1984, March 3rd 1988, April 3rd 1991, February 2nd 1995, March 4th 1999, April 24th 2003, February 9th 2007, November 9th 2012 and December 15th 2016.
The current constitution allows the Governor acting on advice from the Premier to prorogue the House of Assembly at any time. Once the House is dissolved, elections can be held within three months but not less than 35 days after the dissolution.
USA election dates
In the USA, the elections are set as the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Therefore everyone in the USA knows when elections will take place.
UK election dates
In the UK, the Fixed Term Parliament Acts of 2011 sets the general election date as the first Thursday of May every five years. However, there are provisions that allow the general election to be held earlier than the set date. Those provisions are as follows:
The majority of members of Government passed a motion of no confidence in the Government.
Two thirds of the number of seats in the House of Common passed a motion to agree for a general election.
The date for the election is based on the Constitution. Therefore in order to amend the election date to a fixed date, it would require a change to the Constitution. During the last Constitutional consultation, one of the questions poised was should there be a fixed date for the election. I am not sure how many people responded to this question but I know many countries throughout the world are moving to a fixed date for elections. If the UK chose to adopt a fixed election date, then why shouldn’t the overseas territories such as Turks and Caicos do likewise.