|Government Structure and Political System of St. Vincent and the Grenadines|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been independent of the United Kingdom since 27 October 1979. The territory includes the northern Grenadine islets of Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Mustique, Prune Island, Petit St. Vincent, and Union Island.|
The Head of State
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the nominal head of state represented in the country by the Governor-General, Sir Fredrick Ballantyne (since 2 September 2002).
In the table below, we provide a listing of the Administrators, Governors, and Governors-General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Prime Minister and Head of Government
The Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor-General as the Representative who appears likely to command the support of the majority of the Representatives in the House of Assembly. With the granting of the new Constitution in 1960, the Head of Government was referred to as the Chief Minister. After attaining Associated Statehood in 1969, the Head of Government was referred to as the Premier. Upon attainment of the independence in 1979, the Head of Government was referred to as the Prime Minister. There have been four Prime Ministers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines since independence. The fourth and current Prime Minister is Dr. the Hon Ralph E. Gonsalves (since 29 March 2001).
In the table below, we provide a list of all Head of Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Cabinet is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister from the members of the House of Assembly, with no more than two members being drawn from the appointed senators. The main function of the Cabinet is to advise the Governor-General and is collectively responsible to the House for any advice given to the Governor-General by or under the general authority of the Cabinet and for all things done by or under the authority of any Minister in the execution of his office.
The parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a unicameral body, the House of Assembly, with 21 seats consisting of 15 elected members and 6 appointed senators. There are fifteen constituencies and these fifteen seats in the House of Assembly are contested in General Elections: members are elected by popular vote on a “first-past-the-post” basis. The Leader of the party securing the majority of seats in Parliament is named Prime Minister by the Governor-General. The Leader of the party winning the next largest bloc of seats is named Leader of the Opposition. The Governor-General appoints senators, four on the advice of the Prime Minister and two on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition. The parliamentary term of office is five years from the date of the first sitting of the House after dissolution, although the Prime Minister may call elections at any time.
There is no local government in St. Vincent, and all six parishes are administered by the central government.
As in other English-speaking Caribbean countries, the judiciary in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are rooted in British common law. There are 11 courts in three magisterial districts. The Lower Judiciary includes the Magistracy and the Family Court, with the High Judiciary comprising of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Appeals can be made through the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. The court of last resort is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.