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Global issue 20

In Focus Saint Lucia Bi-party politics bring stability to island state The small nation of Saint Lucia has explored the idea of forming closer relationships with other Windward Islands to give it a more powerful voice on the international stage. But the idiosyncrasies of the United Nations’ voting system means that there are currently more economic benefits for Caribbean small island states if they remain completely independent and retain their own vote Neil Ford The Windward Islands’ nation of Saint Lucia is a stable democracy, despite having been an independent nation for just 35 years. Although subject to many of the same scandals and complaints as other countries, the electoral process is considered free and fair, and political parties respect the outcome of elections. There has been some criticism of political interference in the media during 2014, but it is too soon to tell whether this will become a longer-term trend. Saint Lucia shares many of the same political advantages and challenges as its neighbours in the Caribbean. With a population of just 181,000, it has a small pool of talent from which to draw its politicians and an even smaller pool of highly educated people. Politicians all know each other very well, making politics more concerned with personality than policy. On a more positive note, political leaders are acutely aware of their country’s problems and are not as isolated from the bulk of the population as in bigger countries. Moreover, the country is not as prone to domination by a handful of political family dynasties as other very small states. The focus on personality is reinforced by the government’s lack of control over the country’s economy. As a micro-state that is largely dependent on tourism, but has few natural resources, its economic fortunes are generally guided by global economic growth rates and, to a lesser extent, global security fears. The very personal nature of politics is also a result of the country’s sensible decision to limit the number of elected members in order to keep administrative costs down. Parliament is broadly modelled on the Westminster style of government and comprises two houses: the House of Assembly, which has 17 seats; and the Senate, which has 11. Saint Lucia’s first-past-the-post system discourages the electorate from voting for minority parties, so only two parties are represented in parliament: the Saint Lucia © ATGImages / Shutterstock.com 72 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2015 global


Global issue 20
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