Politics of the British Virgin Islands takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby the Premier is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. The British Virgin Islands are an internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes the islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The Constitution of the Islands was introduced in 1971 and amended in 1979, 1982, 1991, 1994, 2000 and 2007. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Military defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom.
A new constitution was made in 2007 (the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007) and came into force after the Legislative Council (the former name of the House of Assembly) was dissolved for the 2007 general election.
The British Virgin Islands elects legislature on a territorial level. The House of Assembly (formerly Legislative Council) has 15 members, 13 members elected for a four year term, nine of them in single-seat constituencies and four at large, one ex-officio member and one speaker chosen from outside the council.
The four at large seats are a comparatively recent innovation in British Virgin Islands politics. They were introduced under some pressure from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the mid-1990s. The rationale behind their introduction was that there was a risk that constituency seats can become too closely tied to a particular local figure, and that if a certain number of local figures join the same political party, then the voters have no real choice in selection of their government. Under the proposals any person in the Territory could stand as an at large candidate, and each voter would have four at large votes in addition to their constituency vote. The four at large candidates who received the highest total number of votes would be elected to the Legislative Council.