St Vincent and the Grenadines is a constitutional monarchy and representative democracy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, represented by a Governor-General. The legislature is unicameral, with a House of Assembly of 23 members comprising 15 members elected at least every five years by universal adult suffrage (plus Speaker and Attorney-General) and six senators appointed by the Governor-General (four on the advice of the Prime Minister and two on that of the Leader of the Opposition). The leader of the majority party in the House of Assembly becomes Prime Minister and selects and heads a cabinet.
The March 2001 general election was won by the Unity Labour Party (ULP) with 12 seats, ending almost 17 years of New Democratic Party (NDP; three seats) government and ULP leader Dr Ralph Gonsalves became Prime Minister.
In February 2005 the Constitutional Review Commission proposed far-reaching reforms including replacement of the British monarch as head of state by an indirectly elected President, establishment of a non-partisan ‘council of elders’ to advise on public appointments and issues of the day, and reconstituting the legislature to include representatives of civil society as well as directly elected and appointed members.
In the December 2005 general election the ULP was returned, again winning 12 seats, and Gonsalves continued as Prime Minister.
The ULP won a third consecutive general election in December 2010, with eight seats; Gonsalves was returned as Prime Minister. The NDP, led by Arnhim Eustace, secured the remaining seven seats. Turnout was 62 per cent.