Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation

Quick Facts - EOM Electoral Observation Mission in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines December 13, 2010

General Elections.

Citizens over the age of eighteen are entitled to vote, as are Commonwealth citizens who have fulfilled a residency requirement.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines operates a parliamentary system of government on the Westminster model.  Since 1979, the islands have been an independent sovereign State, but remain a member of the British Commonwealth.

The Queen of Great Britain is the nominal Head of State; her representative in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the Governor-General. The Parliament is a unicameral body, the House of Assembly, with 21 seats, of which 15 are elected representatives and six are appointed senators.

There are fifteen constituencies and these fifteen seats in the House of Assembly are contested in General Elections: members are elected by popular vote on a “first-past-the-post” basis. The leader of the party securing the majority of seats in Parliament is named Prime Minister by the Governor-General. The leader of the party winning the next largest bloc of seats is named leader of the Opposition. The Governor-General appoints Senators, four on the advice of the Prime Minister and two on the advice of the leader of the Opposition. The parliamentary term of office is five years, although the Prime Minister may call elections at any time.

In accordance with the Representation of the People Act of 1982, the Supervisor of Elections administers and supervises the conduct of elections and referendums through the Electoral Office and appoints polling officials. Each polling Station is manned by a Presiding Officer and a Poll Clerk, who report to the Returning Officer for that constituency.

Two major political parties in St. Vincent and the Grenadines: the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Unity Labour Party (ULP), which compete for seats in the House of Assembly are represented in parliament.  The Green Party fielded 13 candidates for the 2010 general elections.

The population of St. Vincent is 106,000.