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Dominica : Constitution and politics

Constitution

Status: 
Republic
Legislature: 
House of Assembly
Independence: 
3 November 1978

Dominica is a republic with a non-executive presidency and parliamentary democracy. It has a unicameral House of Assembly with 30 members plus the Speaker and Attorney-General. There are 21 directly elected members and nine senators appointed by the President, five on the advice of the Prime Minister, four on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition. Elections are held at least every five years, with universal suffrage for adults.

The President is nominated by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition and elected by the House of Assembly for not more than two terms of five years. He or she appoints the Prime Minister, who consults the President in appointing other ministers. The President may dismiss the Prime Minister in the event of a no- confidence vote in the House of Assembly. Individual rights are guaranteed under the constitution.

Roseau (the capital) and the Carib Territory have a measure of self- government. The Caribs elect their chief.

Politics

The economy continued to dominate the political agenda. The government’s top priority in the run-up to the 2000 elections had been to secure financial backing for its new airport project – the key to expansion of the tourism industry, which was set to become crucial as, inevitably, the international banana market became more competitive.

In the January 2000 general election, the Dominica Labour Party (DLP – ten seats) narrowly defeated the United Workers Party (UWP) (nine seats). The DLP formed a coalition with the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP – two seats) and Roosevelt (Rosie) Douglas became Prime Minister. Following his sudden death in October 2000, he was succeeded by Communications and Works Minister Pierre Charles.

In October 2003 Dr Nicholas Liverpool was elected President by the House of Assembly for a five-year term. In January 2004 Charles died suddenly and Roosevelt Skerrit was sworn in as Prime Minister.

In the general election in May 2005, the DLP took 12 seats, the UWP eight and independents one. DFP failed to win any seats and was unable to continue as coalition partner with DLP in government.

In December 2009, in an election that was called early, the DLP won 18 seats – with 61.2 per cent of the vote – and the UWP the balance of three (34.9 per cent). In early January 2010 Skerrit announced his new cabinet, in which he was Finance and Foreign Affairs Minister.

Following the resignation of President Nicholas Liverpool, the House of Assembly elected Eliud Williams as his successor on 17 September 2012.

On 30 September 2013 Charles Savarin was elected President by the House of Assembly for a five-year term.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and the DLP were returned to power in the general election on 8 December 2014, winning 15 seats. The UWP secured the remaining six elective seats.

Head of government

The Hon Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister
The Hon Roosevelt Skerrit is serving his third term in office as Prime Minister of Dominica following the victory of his Dominica Labour Party in the December 2009 general election. He was first sworn into office in January 2004 after the untimely passing of the late Prime Minister Pierre Charles, and Mr Skerrit retained power in the May 2005 general election. Mr Skerrit is concurrently Minister for Finance, Foreign Affairs and Information Technology. He is the youngest Prime Minister to be elected in Dominica. He leads the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the issue of Free Movement of Labour as part of the implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy. Mr Skerrit was elected to the House of Assembly (Legislature) in 2000 and first served as Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs. He later took on the Education portfolio as well. Before entering politics, Mr Skerrit worked as an educationist and lectured at the Dominica State College. Mr Skerrit has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English from the University of Mississippi, USA. He was born on 8 June 1972 in Vieille Case, Dominica.