General elections were held in Montserrat on 2 April 2001.
The Legislative Assembly has eleven members, of which nine are elected. The other two seats are taken by the Attorney General and the Financial Secretary. The British Overseas Territory is a single nine-member constituency, with voters able to vote for up to nine candidates on their ballot paper.
Volcanic activity resulted in four and a half of the original seven constituencies in Montserrat being unoccupied. In addition, population had been reduced from 11,314 in 1991 to approximately 4,000 by 1999 with voters being spread across the remaining two and a half constituencies in temporary shelters. As a result, the pre-1995 electoral arrangements became unworkable. In February 1999, the Governor appointed a commission to suggest reforms. The Commission reported in May 1999. Their main recommendations were that:
- the single-member, multi-constituency, first-past-the-post electoral system be replaced by a single-constituency system under a modified first-past-the-post arrangement;
- the nominated membership to the Legislative Council be abolished and the elected membership be increased from seven to nine accordingly.
The main recommendations were accepted by HMG and the new system was used in the 2001 and subsequent elections.
The Legislative Council has been expanded from seven to nine elected members with the attorney-general and financial secretary sitting as ex-officio members.
The general election was held on Monday, 2 April 2001 following Nomination Day on 16 March 2001. General elections were constitutionally due by November 2001 or the latest March 2002 but the coalition government collapsed when two members, Rubert Weeks and Adelina Tuitt, resigned, citing irreconcilable differences with Chief Minister David Brandt. Brandt announced that he would not contest the election.
Political Parties & Candidates
The electorate had to choose a maximum of nine candidates from the 24 nominated. The New People's Liberation Movement (NPLM) led by former Chief Minister John Osborne and the National Progressive Party (NPP) led by former Chief Minister Reuben Meade fielded a full slate of nine candidates each, while the remaining six were independents.
Key campaign issues included how the Brandt administration had handled the recovery plan for this island, battered by five years of volcanic activity.
The election resulted in a landslide victory for John Osborne’s National Peoples Liberation Movement (NPLM). A 78% turnout of the 2,953 registered voters, in a well-organised and orderly election, resulted in the NPLM securing seven of the nine available elected seats in the Legislative Council and 51% of the popular vote. The other two seats went to members of the National Progressive Party (NPP).
Voter turnout was 77.48% of the 2,953 registered voters.
In his first speech after victory, Osborne promised to work for the reconstruction of the island, which was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the eruption of the Soufriere volcano in 1996.
The first sitting of the new Legislative Assembly was held on Friday, 6 April 2001.
The NPLM's majority was reduced to one in February 2003, when two NPLM members crossed the floor.