St. Lucia is a parliamentary democracy modelled 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 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.
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History of Saint Lucia
St. Lucia’s first known inhabitants were the Arawaks, believed to have come from northern South America in 200-400 A.D. By 800 AD the Arawaks’ culture had been superseded by an early Amerindian group known as the Caribs. The Caribs called the island ‘Iouanalao’ and ‘Hewanorra’, meaning ‘Island of the Iguanas’. Numerous archaeological sites on the island have produced specimens of the Arawaks’ well-developed pottery. Caribs gradually replaced Arawaks during the period from 800-1000 A.D.
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Government Facts of Saint Lucia
- Principal Government Officials
- Description of Electoral System
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Election Timeline of Saint Lucia
1501 – St Lucia sighted by Christopher Columbus.
1635 – The French establish a colony on St Lucia.
1660 – The French sign a treaty with the indigenous Carib people.
1814 – France cedes St Lucia to Britain following the Treaty of Paris; Britain proclaims the island a crown colony and brings in African slaves to work on the sugar cane plantations.
1834 – Slavery abolished.
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Source: Caribbean Elections