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St Kitts and Nevis Government Structure

The Federation of St Kitts and Nevis is a constitutional monarchy, recognising Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. She is represented by a governor-general who takes advice from the prime minister and cabinet. The country is a sovereign democratic federal state, with a unicameral National Assembly. The uniqueness of its 1983 Constitution derives from the provisions for the autonomy of the island of Nevis with regard to certain "specified matters" and the establishment of the separate Nevis Island Assembly (legislature) to address these local concerns.

Branch of Government Main Powers Election Process Election Cycle
Executive

Monarch of the United Kingdom acts as a ceremonial figurehead, governor-general represents the queen, and prime minister provides advice for the governor-general and leads the cabinet of ministers.

Governor-general is appointed by the monarch and prime minister is appointed by the governor-general.

Governor-General and Prime Minister: At Her Majesty's discretion

Legislative

Responsible for drafting legislation.

National Assembly has 11 members elected by plurality vote in single-member constituencies and 3 members are appointed by the governor-general.

5 years

Judicial

Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court presides over multiple countries, one justice resides in St. Kitts.

Appointed by British monarch and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

Mandatory retirement age of 65

Execurtive branch

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.

The Queen - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the formal head of state of the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis, She is also the symbolic head of the Commonwealth comprised of St. Kitts & Nevis and fifty three other former British colonies. Parliament meets only by royal summons and no bills become law without Royal Assent.

Governor-General - The Governor-General is the personal representative of the Queen in St. Kitts & Nevis. He is appointed by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and performs the functions of the Monarch in her absence including Royal Assent for all bills and authorization of all government appointments.

Prime Minister - The Prime Minister is the leader of the political party which won the largest number of seats in the National Assembly in the last general election, and the member who must be able to command the support of the majority of members of the National Assembly. He is invited to form a government by the Governor-General, The Prime Minister is the senior minister in the government and is ultimately responsible for all government policies and programs.

Cabinet - The St. Kitts & Nevis Cabinet is comprised of the Prime Minister, other ministers and the Attorney General. Cabinet ministers are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. They control the departments of government and implement, administer and enforce the laws made by Parliament. Cabinet members must stand together on government policy - a minister who is not willing to do so must resign.

Legislative branch

The Parliament of St. Kitts & Nevis is comprised of 1 Assembly members are elected for a term of no longer than five years by universal adult suffrage in eight constituencies in St Kitts and three in Nevis, and three are nominated ‘senators’, two on the advice of the prime minister and one on the advice of the leader of the opposition. Parliament, also called the National Assembly, is the sole institution through which laws of the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis are passed, taxes imposed, and public expenditure authorized.

Nevis Island Administration

Nevis has its own legislature, premier and administration. The Nevis legislature, the Nevis Island Assembly, has five members elected by universal adult suffrage and three nominated members. The central government legislates for Nevis in matters concerning overall policy formation. Under the constitution, provision is made for the secession of Nevis at six months’ notice, after a two-thirds majority in favour in the Nevis Assembly and a referendum, also with at least two-thirds in favour.

Dominica has a Westminster parliamentary system of government. Under the Constitution adopted at independence on 3 November 1978 politics in Dominica takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Dominica is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Judicial branch

The judiciary exercises its authority independently of both the executive and legislative branches.  St. Kitts and Nevis legal system is based on English common law.

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court was established (as the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court) in 1967 with its headquarters in Castries in St Lucia, and is responsible for the administration of justice in its member states including St Kitts and Nevis. It comprises the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal.

The chief justice and the four justices of appeal are based at the court’s headquarters and the 19 High Court judges reside in the nine member countries, and sit in the country’s court of summary jurisdiction. Less serious cases are heard in magistrates’ courts. The Court of Appeal is itinerant. The High Court’s jurisdiction includes fundamental rights and freedoms, and constitutional issues.

How is a bill passed?

A bill is Proposed legislation that is presented to parliament for discussion. It is draughted by the government's legal department and approved in Cabinet before it is introduced to the National Assembly.

The bill is introduced into the National Assembly by the Minister responsible or the Attorney-General. After its first reading it is circulated to interested groups or individuals for feedback and input. Changes may be made to the bill before it is submitted to the National Assembly for its second reading. The aims and objectives of the bill are presented by the Minister and a full debate follows with all members having an opportunity to express their views.

Following debate on the second reading of the bill, it is referred to committee where it is reviewed in detail and any final amendments made.

The bill is then read in the National Assembly for the third and final time and submitted to a vote. If Successful, the legislation is forwarded to the Governor-General for Royal Assent. The new law (now called Act) is then published in the Government Gazette and made available to the public.

Key
CCM = Concerned Citizens Movement; NRP = Nevis Reformation Party; PAM = People's Action Movement; PLP = People's Labour Party; SKNLP = St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party; IND = Independent Candidate; *incumbent; ** Political Leader
Sources
St. Kitts and Nevis Electoral Office
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CCM Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM)
NRP Nevis Reformation Party (NRP)
PAM People's Action Movement (PAM)
PLP People's Labour Party (PLP)
SKNLP St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP)
Team Unity Team Unity
 PARTY MANIFESTOS learn more
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