Country in the West Indies, in the eastern Caribbean Sea, one of the Windward Islands.
St Lucia has a multiparty parliamentary political executive. Its constitution dates from independence in 1979. Its formal head of state is a governor-general, appointed by and representing the British monarch. The governor general appoints a prime minister and cabinet, drawn from and responsible to the lower house of the two-chamber parliament.
The legislature comprises an upper house, the Senate, with 11 appointed members, and a lower house, the House of Assembly, with 17 members, elected from single-member constituencies by universal suffrage. Six senators are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister, three on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and two after wider consultation. Parliament has a life of up to five years.
It became a crown colony in 1814.
St Lucia was a colony within the Windward Islands federal system until 1960, and acquired internal self-government in 1967 as a West Indies associated state. The leader of the right-of-centre United Workers' Party (UWP), John Compton, became prime minister. In 1975 the associated states agreed to seek independence separately, and in February 1979, after prolonged negotiations, St Lucia achieved full independence within the Commonwealth, with Compton as prime minister. It joined the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 1974 and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) on its creation in 1981.
The centre-left St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) came to power in 1979 led by Allan Louisy, but a split developed within the party, and in 1981 Louisy was forced to resign, being replaced by the attorney general, Winston Cenac.
Soon afterwards George Odlum, who had been Louisy's deputy, left with two other SLP members to form a new party, the Progressive Labour Party. The Cenac government was unpopular and, after demonstrations and a general strike, Cenac resigned in January 1982. The resulting general election, in May 1982, was won decisively by the UWP and John Compton became prime minister.
Compton was re-elected in 1987 and 1992. His UWP government followed conservative, pro-Western and anti-communist policies. Aged 70, Compton retired as prime minister in April 1996 and was replaced by his chosen successor Vaughan Lewis. But the UWP lost the May 2007 general election to the SLP, whose leader, Kenny Anthony, became prime minister. The SLP was re-elected in 2002, but lost the December 2006 general election to the UWP, led by Compton, who had returned to politics in March 2005. Compton died in office in September 2007 and was succeeded as prime minister by Stephenson King, who had been health and labour relations minister in the government.
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