CONSTITUTION AND POLITICS

St Vincent and The Grenadines: Constitution and politics

Constitution

Status:
Monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II
Legislature:
Parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines
Independence:
27 October 1979

St Vincent and the Grenadines is a constitutional monarchy and representative democracy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, represented by a Governor-General. The legislature is unicameral, with a House of Assembly of 23 members comprising 15 members elected at least every five years by universal adult suffrage (plus Speaker and Attorney-General) and six senators appointed by the Governor-General (four on the advice of the Prime Minister and two on that of the Leader of the Opposition). The leader of the majority party in the House of Assembly becomes Prime Minister and selects and heads a cabinet.

Politics

The March 2001 general election was won by the Unity Labour Party (ULP) with 12 seats, ending almost 17 years of New Democratic Party (NDP; three seats) government and ULP leader Dr. Ralph Gonsalves became Prime Minister.

In February 2005 the Constitutional Review Commission proposed far-reaching reforms including replacement of the British monarch as head of state by an indirectly elected President, establishment of a non-partisan ‘council of elders’ to advise on public appointments and issues of the day, and reconstituting the legislature to include representatives of civil society as well as directly elected and appointed members.

In the December 2005 general election the ULP was returned, again winning 12 seats, and Gonsalves continued as Prime Minister.

The ULP won a third consecutive general election in December 2010, with eight seats; Gonsalves was returned as Prime Minister. The NDP, led by Arnhim Eustace, secured the remaining seven seats. Turnout was 62 percent.

Head of government

The Hon Dr. Ralph Everard Gonsalves, Prime Minister
Ralph Everard Gonsalves is serving his fourth term as Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines after winning the elections in 2001, 2005, 2010 and 2015. Dr. Gonsalves became the Deputy Political Leader of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) in 1994. The ULP, a merger of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party and the Movement for National Unity (MNU), won the St Vincent and the Grenadines General Elections held on 28 March 2001. Concurrently while pursuing his political career and prior to his becoming the Prime Minister, Dr. Gonsalves practiced law before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in a wide range of matters. Dr. Gonsalves was educated in St Vincent and the Grenadines. He later completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics at the University of the West Indies. In 1971, he obtained a Masters in Government from the University of the West Indies. In 1974 and 1981 he obtained a Ph.D. in Government and a Degree of Utter Barrister at University of Manchester, England and Gray’s Inn, London, respectively. Dr. Gonsalves has researched, written and published extensively on a range of matters touching upon the Caribbean, African, trade unionism, comparative political economy, and developmental issues generally. Among his two latest publications are History and the Future: A Caribbean Perspective, The Politics of Our Caribbean Civilisation – Essays and Speeches, The Making of the Comrade: The Political Journey of Ralph Gonsalves and Diary of a Prime Minister: Ten Days Among Benedictine Monks. He was born on 8 August 1946 in Colonarie, St Vincent, and the Grenadines.

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