Politics of Trinidad and Tobago
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Trinidad and Tobago
The politics of Trinidad and Tobago function within the framework of a unitary state regulated by a parliamentary democracy modelled on that of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, from which the country gained its independence in 1962. Under the 1976 republican Constitution, the British monarch was replaced as head of state by a President chosen by an electoral college composed of the members of the bicameral Parliament, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The general direction and control of the government rests with the Cabinet, led by a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are answerable (at least in theory) to the House of Representatives. The 41 members of the House are elected to terms of at least five years. Elections may be called earlier by the president at the request of the prime minister or after a vote of no confidence in the House of Representatives. In 1976, the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18. The Senate's 31 members are appointed by the President: 16 on the advice of the prime minister, six on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and nine independents selected by the President from among outstanding members of the community. Local government is through nine Regional Corporations and five municipalities. Tobago was given a measure of self-government in 1980 and is governed by the Tobago House of Assembly. In 1996, Parliament passed legislation which gave Tobago greater self-government. In 2005 Parliament approved a proposal by the independent Elections and Boundaries Commission to increase the number of seats in the House of Representatives from 36 to 41.
Party politics has generally run along ethnic lines, with most Afro-Trinidadians supporting the People's National Movement (PNM) and most Indo-Trinidadians supporting various Indian-majority parties, such as the current United National Congress (UNC) or its predecessors. Most political parties, however, have sought to broaden their purview. In the run-up to the 2007 general election, a new political presence emerged called Congress of The People (COP). Led by former Winston Dookeran, the majority of this membership was formed from former UNC members. Despite gaining a significant but minority share of the vote in various constituencies, the COP failed to capture a single seat.
An early general election was called on 16 April 2010, and was held on 24 May 2010. Two major entities contested the election: the incumbent PNM, and a coalition called the People's Partnership, led by UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, comprising the UNC, COP, TOP (Tobago Organisation of the People), and two labour and non-governmental organisations:the National Joint Action Committee and the Movement for Social Justice. The People's Partnership won 29 seats and the majority, with Kamla Persad-Bissessar being sworn in as the country's first female Prime Minister on 26 May 2010. The PNM won the remaining 12 seats and comprises the opposition in parliament.
|President||Anthony Carmona||Independent||18 March 2013|
|Prime Minister||Kamla Persad-Bissessar||People's Partnership||26 May 2010|
The President is elected by an electoral college, which consists of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President from among the members of Parliament; following legislative elections, the person with the most support among the elected members of the House of Representatives is appointed Prime Minister, usually the leader of the winning party. The cabinet is appointed from among the Members of Parliament, which constitutes elected Members of the House of Representatives and appointed Members of the Senate
Cabinet ministers of Trinidad and Tobago
- Prime Minister: Kamla Persad-Bissesar
- Attorney-General: Garvin Nicholas
- Minister of Foreign Affairs: Winston Dookeran
- Minister of Finance and the Economy: Larry Howai
- Minister of National Security: Carl Alfonso
- Minister of Trade and Investment: Vasant Bharath
- Minister of Local Government: Marlene Coudray
- Minister of Education: Dr. Tim Gopeesingh
- Minister of Works and Infrastructure: Surujrattan Rambachan
- Minister of Transport: Stephen Cadiz
- Minister of Health: Dr. Fuad Khan
- Minister of Food Production: Devant Maharaj
- Minister of Public Administration: Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan
- Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs: Prakash Ramadhar
- Minister of Communications: Vasant Bharath
- Minister of Tourism: Gerald Hadeed
- Minister of Community Development: Winston Peters
- Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism: Dr. Lincoln Douglas
- Minister of Housing and Urban Development: Dr. Roodal Moonilal
- Minister of Lands and Marine Affairs: Jairam Seemungal
- Minister of Environment and Water Resources: Ganga Singh
- Minister of Planning: Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie
- Minister of Energy: Kevin Ramnarine
- Minister of Labour: Errol MacLeod
- Minister of the People and Social Development: Christine Newallo-Hosein
- Minister of Public Utilities: Nizam Baksh
- Minister of Tertiary Education: Fazal Karim
- Minister of Science and Technology: Dr. Rupert Griffith
- Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development: Clifton De Coteau
- Minister of Sports: Brent Sancho
- Minister of Tobago Development: Dr. Delmond Baker
- Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration: Rodger Samuel
- Minister in the Ministry of Finance: Rudranath Indarsingh
- Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development Vernella Alleyne-Toppin
- Minister in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development: Stacy Roopnarine
- Minister in the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources: Ramona Ramdial
- Minister in the Ministry of National Security: Kwasi Mutema
The Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 41 members, elected for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies. The Senate has 31 members: 16 Government Senators appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, six Opposition Senators appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and nine Independent Senators appointed by the President to represent other sectors of civil society.
Political parties and elections
|People's Partnership Coalition||432,026||59.81||29|
|People's National Movement||285,354||39.50||12|
|New National Vision||1,998||0.27||0|
|Total valid (turnout 69.45%)||719,727||100.00||41|
The country's highest court is the Court of Appeal, whose chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. The current Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago is Ivor Archie. Final appeal on some matters is decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. Trinidad and Tobago was chosen by its Caribbean neighbours (Caricom) to be the headquarters site of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which was supposed to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the fall of 2003. However, the government has been unable to pass legislation to effect this change.
Trinidad is divided in five Municipalities Arima, Chaguanas, Port of Spain, Point Fortin, San Fernando and nine Regional Corporations Couva-Tabaquite-Talparo, Diego Martin, Penal-Debe, Princes Town, Rio Claro-Mayaro, San Juan-Laventille, Sangre Grande, Siparia, and Tunapuna-Piarco.
Local government in Tobago is handled by the Tobago House of Assembly.
Domestic Terrorist Organizations and leaders
International organization participation
ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-24, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO
- Linda Hutchinson-Jafar, "Trinidad and Tobago sets early election May 24", Reuters, 16 April 2010.
- "A look at the People's Partnership", Trinidad & Tobago Newsday, 23 April 2010.
- admin. (2002). "Structure of the Judiciary". The Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
- admin. (2002). "Appointment to the Judiciary". JT&T. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- admin. (2008). "Chief judges and Chief justices of Trinidad and Tobago". JT&T. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EB&C), Trinidad and Tobago