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Politics of Antigua and Barbuda

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Title: Politics of Antigua and Barbuda  
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Politics of Antigua and Barbuda

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Antigua and Barbuda

The politics of Antigua and Barbuda takes place in a framework of a unitary parliamentary representative democratic monarchy, wherein the Sovereign of Antigua and Barbuda is the head of state, appointing a Governor-General to act as vice-regal representative in the nation. A Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor-General as the head of government, and of a multi-party system; the Prime Minister advises the Governor-General on the appointment of a Council of Ministers. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the Parliament. The bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (seventeen-member body appointed by the Governor General) and the House of Representatives (seventeen seats; members are elected by proportional representation to serve five-year terms).

Antigua and Barbuda has a long history of free elections, three of which have resulted in peaceful changes of government. Since the 1951 general election, the party system has been dominated by the Antigua Labour Party (ALP), for a long time was dominated by the Bird family, particularly Prime Ministers Vere and Lester Bird. The opposition claimed to be disadvantaged by the ALP's longstanding monopoly on patronage and its control of the media, especially in the 1999 general election. The most recent elections to the House of Representatives were held on 12 June 2014. The Antigua Labour Party government was elected with fourteen seats. The United Progressive Party has three seats in the House of Representatives.

Constitutional safeguards include freedom of speech, press, worship, movement, and association. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the eastern Caribbean court system. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Jurisprudence is based on English common law.

Executive branch

As head of state, Queen Elizabeth II is represented in Antigua and Barbuda by a governor general who acts on the advice of the prime minister and the cabinet.

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Monarch Queen Elizabeth II 6 February 1952
Governor-General Rodney Williams 14 August 2014
Prime Minister Gaston Browne Labour Party 13 June 2014

Legislative branch

The parliament building in St. John's.

Antigua and Barbuda elects on national level a legislature. Parliament has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 19 members, 17 members elected for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies, 1 ex-officio member and 1 Speaker. The Senate has 17 appointed members. The prime minister is the leader of the majority party in the House and conducts affairs of state with the cabinet. The prime minister and the cabinet are responsible to the Parliament. Elections must be held at least every five years but may be called by the prime minister at any time.

There are special legislative provisions to account for Barbuda's low population relative to that of Antigua. Barbuda is guaranteed one member of the House of Representatives and two members of the Senate. In addition, there is a Barbuda Council to govern the internal affairs of the island.

Political parties and elections

 Summary of the 12 March 2009 House of Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda election results
Parties Votes +/− % +/− Seats +/−
United Progressive Party 21,205 −887 51.1 −1.8 9 −3
Antigua Labour Party 19,460 +2,916 47.0 +5.2 7 +3
Barbuda People's Movement 474 +66 1.1 +0.1 1 ±0
Independents 194 +15 0.5 +0.0
Organisation for National Development 119 +119 0.3 +0.3
Total 41,452 100.0 17
Source:

Administrative divisions

6 parishes and 2 dependencies*; Barbuda*, Redonda*, Saint George, Saint John, Saint Mary, Saint Paul, Saint Peter, Saint Philip

Judicial branch

Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. This court is headquartered in Saint Lucia, but at least one judge of the Supreme Court resides in Antigua and Barbuda, and presides over the High Court of Justice. The current High Court judges are Jennifer Remy and Keith Thom.[1]

Antigua is also a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice, although it has not yet acceeded to Part III of the 2001 Agreement Establishing a Caribbean Court of Justice.[2] Its supreme appellate court therefore remains the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Indeed, of the signatories to the Agreement,[2] as of December 2010, only Barbados has replaced appeals to Her Majesty in Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice.

In addition to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Antigua and Barbuda has a Magistrates' Court, which deals with lesser civil and criminal cases.[3]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Antigua Trades and Labor Union or ATLU [William ROBINSON]; People's Democratic Movement or PDM [Hugh MARSHALL]

International organisation participation

OECS, OPANAL, United Nations, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WCL, World Federation of Trade Unions, WHO, WMO, WTrO

References

  1. ^ Judicial Officers of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Antigua and Barbuda Archived August 18, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b Agreement Establishing a Caribbean Court of Justice, available here.
  3. ^ Antiguan and Barbudan criminal court system diagram
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