From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Saint Lucia is a parliamentary democracy modeled on the Westminster system. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a Governor General, appointed by the Queen as her representative. The Governor General exercises basically ceremonial functions, but residual powers, under the constitution, can be used at the governor general's discretion. The actual power in St. Lucia lies with the prime minister and the cabinet, usually representing the majority party in parliament.
The bicameral parliament consists of a 17-member House of Assembly whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage for 5-year terms and an 11-member senate appointed by the governor general. The parliament may be dissolved by the governor general at any point during its 5-year term, either at the request of the prime minister--in order to take the nation into early elections--or at the governor general's own discretion, if the house passes a vote of no-confidence in the government.
St. Lucia has an independent judiciary composed of district courts and a high court. Cases may be appealed to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. The island is divided into 10 administrative divisions, including the capital, Castries. Popularly elected local governments in most towns and villages perform such tasks as regulation of sanitation and markets and maintenance of cemeteries and secondary roads. St. Lucia has no army but maintains a paramilitary Special Service Unit within its police force and a coast guard.
Politics in St. Lucia was once dominated by the United Workers Party (UWP), which, until 1997 had governed the country for all but three years since independence. John Compton was premier of St. Lucia from 1964 until independence in February 1979 and remained prime minister until elections later that year.
The St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP) won the first post-independence elections in July 1979, taking 12 of 17 seats in parliament. A period of turbulence ensued, in which squabbling within the party led to several changes of prime minister. Pressure from the private sector and the unions forced the government to resign in 1982. New elections were then called and were won resoundingly by Compton's UWP, which took 14 of 17 seats.
The UWP was elected for a second time in April 16, 1987, but with only nine of 17 seats. Seeking to increase his slim margin, Prime Minister Compton suspended parliament and called new elections on April 30. This unprecedented snap election, however, gave Compton the same results as before--the UWP retained nine seats and the SLP eight. In April 1992, Prime Minister Compton's government again defeated the SLP. In this election, the government increased its majority in parliament to 11 seats.
In 1996, Compton announced his resignation as prime minister in favor of his chosen successor Dr. Vaughan Lewis, former director-general of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Dr. Lewis became prime minister and minister of finance, planning and development on April 2, 1996. The SLP also had a change of leadership with former CARICOM official Dr. Kenny Anthony succeeding businessman Julian Hunte.
In elections held May 23, 1997, the St. Lucia Labor Party won all but one of the 17 seats in Parliament, and Dr. Kenny Anthony became Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Planning and Development on May 24, 1997.
In elections of December 3, 2001 the St. Lucia Labor Party won 14 of the 17 available seats. The leader of the UWP, Dr. Morella Joseph failed to win a seat. Arsene James is theleader of the Parliamentary Opposition.
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Saint Lucia
Data code: ST
Government type: Westminster-style parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions: 11 quarters; Anse-la-Raye, Castries, Choiseul, Dauphin, Dennery, Gros Islet, Laborie, Micoud, Praslin, Soufriere, Vieux Fort
Independence: February 22 1979 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 22 February (1979)
Constitution: 22 February 1979
Legal system: based on English common law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Dr. Pearlette LOUISY (since September 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Kenneth ANTHONY (since 24 May 1997) and Deputy Prime Minister Mario MICHEL (since 24 May 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the governor general is appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (11 seats; six members appointed on the advice of the prime minister, three on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and two after consultation with religious, economic, and social groups) and the House of Assembly (17 seats; members are elected by popular vote from single-member constituencies to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Assembly - last held 23 May 1997 (next to be held NA 2002)
election results: House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - SLP 16, UWP 1
Judicial branch: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (jurisdiction extends to Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
Political parties and leaders: National Freedom Party or NFP [Martinus FRANCOIS]; Saint Lucia Labor Party or SLP [Kenneth ANTHONY]; United Workers Party or UWP [leader NA]
International organization participation: ACCT (associate), ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, NAM, OAS, OECS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sonia Merlyn JOHNNY
chancery: 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016
telephone:  (202) 364-6792 through 6795
FAX:  (202) 364-6728
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Saint Lucia; the US Ambassador in Barbados is accredited to Saint Lucia
Flag description: blue, with a gold isosceles triangle below a black arrowhead; the upper edges of the arrowhead have a white border