The road to independence became long for the
British colony of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Since the
1870s, the two islands, together with Anguilla and the
British Virgin Islands, form part of the Leeward Islands
Federation. When this union was dissolved in 1957 and
succeeded by the Caribbean Federation, Saint
Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla became a member there as well,
while the British Virgin Islands chose to stand outside.
The Caribbean Federation became short-lived. After
several unsuccessful attempts to form a new association,
the colony and a number of neighbors in 1967 gained a
new administrative status. They became so-called
associated states within the Commonwealth (Britain and
the former British colonies). This meant that Saint
Kitts gained full self-control while Britain continued
to pursue foreign policy and defense. At the same time,
Anguilla took the opportunity to disengage from Saint
Kitts and Nevis, a process that was formally completed
List of most commonly used acronyms containing St. Kitts and Nevis. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The same year, it was intended that Saint Kitts and
Nevis would gain their independence, but the process was
delayed by disagreement between the ruling Labor
Party and Nevis about the status of the smaller
island. In the election that year, the Labor Party lost
its majority in Parliament and a coalition government
was formed between the right-wing People's
Action Movement (abbreviated in English to
PAM) and Nevi's Reform Party
(NRP). Negotiations on Nevi's status
continued and when Saint Kitts and Nevis became an
independent state in 1983, Nevis gained extensive
autonomy and the right to withdraw from the federation
on certain conditions (see below).
Political violence and drug-related crime
The coalition between PAM and NRP retained government
power until the 1993 elections, when PAM and the Labor
Party received an equal number of seats. When the
British Governor-General commissioned PAM to form a
minority government, the Labor Party boycotted
Parliament for a time. At the end of the year, riots
broke out in the capital. The government announced
emergency permits and troops from the regional security
force Regional Security Systems were called. The parties
then agreed to hold new elections within one year.
At the same time, the government was shaken by
revelations that the Deputy Prime Minister's sons had
engaged in criminal acts. Two of the sons were arrested
for illegal weapons possession while a third son was
killed in what was believed to be a drug deal. The
police who led the murder investigation were murdered
and for a time the British police took command of the
local police force.
In the summer of 1995, new elections were held.
During the election movement, supporters of PAM and the
Labor Party rallied in violent quarrels. The Labor Party
won a convincing victory, and Party leader Denzil
Douglas was named prime minister. PAM lost all mandates
In the mid-1990s, drug-related crime increased, and
parties, churches and interest groups formed a pact to
try to curb violence. The government created a special
intervention force to combat the drug trade and
reintroduced the death penalty. In 1998, the first
execution in 13 years was carried out, which brought
great criticism in the outside world.
Demand for independence for Nevis
During the 1990s, dissatisfaction with Nevis
increased with the dominance of the main island. The
demands of a state of its own were strengthened. In the
fall of 1997, Nevi's parliament voted unanimously for
the island to leave the federation with Saint Kitts.
However, in a referendum in 1998, separatists failed to
get their proposal for exit approved. Almost 62 percent
of Nevis residents voted in favor of the proposal, but
it required a two-thirds majority for it to go through.
At the beginning of 2000, a British-led commission
presented a report criticizing PAM's board of directors
in a number of points from 1980 to 1995. Among other
things, the Commission was critical that the government,
without debating the matter publicly, gave a foreign
company a loan that corresponded to one-third of the
state's expenditure. Shortly after the Commission
presented its report, Prime Minister Douglas took the
opportunity to announce new elections. The election was
held in March 2000 and the Labor Party won all seats
(except those reserved for Nevis representatives) while
PAM was put out of Parliament. Of Nevi's three terms,
one went to the NRP and two to the other Nevis-based
Party of Citizens' Movement (CCM).
A few years after the turn of the millennium, the
question of independence for Nevis was revived. Prime
Minister Douglas tried to rally in the creek by
promising reforms that would give Nevis increased
self-government, but local parties on Nevis rejected the
government's proposal. In the summer of 2003, Nevi's
parliament decided to organize a new referendum on
independence despite the defeat five years earlier.
After that, however, nothing happened and a few years
later the question of independence seemed to have come
to an end.
The sugar industry is shut down
In October 2004, Prime Minister Douglas announced
that parliamentary elections would be held at the end of
the same month, six months before the scheduled date.
Douglas asked the Caribbean cooperation organization
Caricom and the Commonwealth to send observers to
guarantee that the election would go right.
In the election, the Labor Party returned somewhat
and lost one of its eight mandates to PAM, which thus
withdrew into parliament. The distribution of the three
mandates accruing to Nevis representatives was from the
previous election: CCM received two mandates and NRP
After the election, PAM accused the government of
electoral fraud. The foreign election observers admitted
that the election was fraught with some shortcomings,
including ambiguities in voting lengths, but
nevertheless approved the election.
In the spring of 2005, the government made a historic
decision: to close the state-owned and unprofitable
sugar industry that has been a burden to the economy for
many years. The decision was a tough blow for many poor
families who depended on the sugar industry for their
livelihood. To alleviate the effects of the closure, the
EU contributed $ 10 million to the country. The money
would be used to provide unemployed IT training.
Record high murder rate
The problems of the widespread drug-related violent
crime came especially into focus in 2008 when 23 people
were murdered. At the end of the year, the state
responded by breaking a ten-year delay in the death
penalty and leaving a convicted prisoner in prison. The
execution brought criticism in the outside world.
Douglas defended the decision by saying that residents
support the death penalty and that he felt it could have
a deterrent effect on other criminals. However, the
following years the murder rate went up.
During the first three months of 2009, seven murders
took place. Douglas called for a crisis meeting with all
social groups, including the opposition. Police were
promised increased resources and rewards pledged for
information that could help solve homicides or find
weapons used in crime.
At the same time, the government struggled to try to
dampen the effects of the global financial crisis. Even
before the financial crisis became a fact in the autumn
of 2008, food and fuel prices had risen. As the crisis
grew, the income from tourism, as well as the
contributions from foreign-working citizens, decreased.
To alleviate the problems somewhat, the government
raised the minimum wage and started selling state land
for half the price to those earning the least, a measure
that the opposition dismissed as election pork for the
upcoming parliamentary elections.
In the 2010 election, the Labor Party became the
largest party but lost a mandate and received a total of
six of the eleven electoral seats. PAM received two
mandates, while the Nevis-based CCM and NRP received two
and one mandate respectively.