Politics of Saint Kitts and Nevis

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Coat of arms of Saint Kitts and Nevis (variant).svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Nevis
Nevis

The politics of Saint Kitts and Nevis takes place in the framework of a federal parliamentary democracy. Saint Kitts and Nevis is an independent Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, represented by a governor-general. He acts on the advice of the prime minister, who is the majority party leader in the National Assembly, and who, with a cabinet, conducts affairs of state.

General aspects[edit]

St Kitts and Nevis has a single National Assembly responsible for making laws, and comprising 14 or 15 members depending upon circumstances.[1][2] 11 of these are directly elected representatives whilst three are senators appointed by the governor-general (two on the advice of the prime minister and the third on the advice of the leader of the opposition). If the attorney general isn't appointed as a senator then he automatically gets a seat as one, increasing the number of senators to four. Of the 11 elected members, eight represent constituencies in St Kitts and the remaining three represent Nevis seats.

The prime minister is appointed from the representatives by the governor-general, who has a constitutional duty to select someone who is likely to command the support of the majority of the representatives. In practice this would normally mean the leader of the majority party or coalition. If there is no suitable candidate, then the governor-general can dissolve the assembly and trigger a general election. Other ministers are also appointed by the governor-general, on the advice of the prime minister (and so effectively by the prime minister). The prime minister can be removed from office by the assembly, or by the governor-general if he feels that the prime minister no longer enjoys the support of the majority of representatives. The assembly is elected every five years unless the governor-general dissolves it before the end of this period, which he may do on the advice of the prime minister.

St Kitts and Nevis has enjoyed a long history of free and fair elections, although the outcome of elections in 1993 was strongly protested by the opposition and the Regional Security System (RSS) was briefly deployed to restore order. The elections in 1995 were contested by the two major parties, the ruling People's Action Movement (PAM) and the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party. Labour won seven of the 11 seats, with Dr Denzil Douglas becoming prime minister. In the March 2000 elections, Denzil Douglas and the Labour Party were returned to power, winning eight of the 11 seats in the House. The Nevis-based Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) won two seats and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) won one seat. The PAM party was unable to obtain a seat.

Under the constitution, Nevis has considerable autonomy and has an island assembly, a premier, and a deputy governor-general. Under certain specified conditions, it may secede from the federation. In accordance with its rights under the Constitution, in 1996 the Nevis Island Administration under the Concerned Citizens' Movement (CCM) of Premier Vance Amory initiated steps towards secession from the Federation, the most recent being a referendum in 1998 that failed to secure the required two-thirds majority for secession. The March 2000 election results placed Vance Armory, as head of the CCM, the leader of the country's opposition party. In the September 7, 2001 elections in Nevis for the Nevis Island Administration, the CCM won four of the five seats available, while the NRP won one. In 2003, the Nevis Island Administration again proposed secession and initiated formal constitutional procedures to hold a referendum on the issue, which was held in early 2004. While opposing secession, the Government acknowledged the constitutional rights of Nevisians to determine their future independence. Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. The most recent elections in Nevis took place on July 10, 2006. Amory's CCM was defeated by the NRP of Joseph Parry, winning only two out of the five elective seats. Parry was sworn in as the third Premier of Nevis a day later.

Like its neighbours in the English-speaking Caribbean, St Kitts and Nevis has an excellent human rights record. Its judicial system is modelled on British practice and procedure and its jurisprudence on English common law. The Royal St Kitts and Nevis Police Force has about 370 members.

Executive branch[edit]

As head of state, Queen Elizabeth II is represented by a governor-general who acts on the advice of the prime minister. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor-general. All other ministerial appointments, including that of deputy prime minister, are made by the governor-general, but acting upon the advice of the prime minister.

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Monarch Queen Elizabeth II 6 February 1952
Governor-General Edmund Lawrence 2 January 2013
Prime Minister Denzil Douglas Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party 6 July 1995

Legislative branch[edit]

The National Assembly of Saint Kitts and Nevis consists of one house with eleven elected members, and three appointed Senators—two on the advice of the Prime Minister, one on the advice of the Opposition Leader. If the Attorney General is not appointed as a Senator, he sits in the Assembly as an ex officio member. Despite the difference in titles, Senators do not form a separate house.

Political parties and elections[edit]

For other political parties see List of political parties in Saint Kitts and Nevis. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
e • d Summary of the 25 January 2010 National Assembly of Saint Kitts and Nevis election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party 12,227 46.96 6
People's Action Movement 8,393 32.24 2
Concerned Citizens' Movement 2,860 10.99 2
Nevis Reformation Party 2,539 9.75 1
Independents 16 0.06
Appointed members (Senators) 3
Ex-officio member (the Attorney General) 1
Total (turnout 81.24%) 26,035 100.00 15
Sources: ZIZ News[dead link], SKNVibes.com[dead link]

Judicial branch[edit]

Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based on Saint Lucia); one judge of the Supreme Court resides in Saint Kitts.

Administrative divisions[edit]

The country is divided in 14 parishes: Christ Church Nichola Town, Saint Anne Sandy Point, Saint George Basseterre, Saint George Gingerland, Saint James Windward, Saint John Capisterre, Saint John Figtree, Saint Mary Cayon, Saint Paul Capisterre, Saint Paul Charlestown, Saint Peter Basseterre, Saint Thomas Lowland, Saint Thomas Middle Island, Trinity Palmetto Point.

International organisation participation[edit]

ACP, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, NAM OAS, OECS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WTrO

External links[edit]

References[edit]