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St. Lucia Modern History

Saint Lucia became independent from the British colonial power in 1979. Since then, two political parties, the Conservative United Workers 'Party (UWP) and the left-wing Liberal Saint Lucia's Workers' Party (SLP), have switched over to government power. Politics and social life have been characterized by an effort to overcome the high crime rate most often linked to drug smuggling through the country, as well as conflicts around the previously important banana industry and its decline from the late 1990s.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing St. Lucia. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

At the time of independence, UWP held government power. Party leader John Compton became the country's first prime minister. In the July elections that year, the SLP captured the majority of the parliamentary mandate, but the change of power was brief. After a strike in 1982, new elections were announced. It was won by UWP, who also retained power after the 1987 election.

In the late 1980s, the government began to address illegal drug traffic through the country. New laws were established and a special force was set up to fight smuggling.

UWP strengthened its position in the elections in 1992. In the following period, the policy was characterized by conflicts around the production of bananas, which was the country's most important export product. The growers striked and blocked the ports to gain more pay and greater influence in the banana industry. The government ended up on the defensive and eventually agreed to the growers' demands. In the mid-1990s, the government was also pressed for concessions by the civil servants.

Contemporary History of St. LuciaSLP wins the election

In 1996, John Compton resigned as both UWP leader and prime minister. His successor, Vaughan Lewis, failed to restore voter confidence in the party after all the turbulence. In the 1997 elections, SLP won a smashing victory. New Prime Minister became party leader Kenny Anthony.

After the election, Lewis resigned as party leader for UWP. Compton resumed the presidency, but was replaced in 2000 by Morella Joseph. Together with a former SLP politician, George Odlum, Compton formed a new political group in 2001, the National Alliance.

Despite financial problems for the banana industry and declining tourist income, SLP won big even in the elections in 2001. The national alliance failed to get into parliament. After the election loss, Joseph left the assignment as UWP leader in favor of Vaughan Lewis. Prior to the 2006 election, Lewis was replaced by Compton, who returned to his old party following the failure of the National Alliance. Lewis then left UWP and joined the ruling party SLP.

Focus on crime and unemployment

Important political issues for the SLP government were the importance of reducing high unemployment as well as rising crime. Unemployment was mainly a consequence of the long-term decline in the banana industry (see Economic overview).

The extensive crime was partly due to the increasing drug traffic through the Caribbean. The SLP government had since 1997 tried to deal with the violence through, among other things, stricter gun laws, more police officers and new police operations. The resumption of the death penalty was also discussed.

In the 2006 election, the electorate voted by a large margin back UWP and the country's first prime minister, John Compton, to power. His government continued on the SLP's path of prioritizing law enforcement. It also set up an investigation to address the public sector debt. The banana industry's survival in increasing global competition was also the focus of the UWP government.

Crisis within the UWP government

In May 2007, Compton became seriously ill and Minister of Health and Labor Stephenson King was appointed Deputy Prime Minister. When Compton died in September of that year, King was formally elected new UWP leader and prime minister.

One year later, the King's government was shaken by an internal crisis. The Minister of Economic Affairs and Development Ausbert d 'Auvergne was criticized both by UWP members of Parliament and by SLP for having too much influence over the government and the country's economy. DŽAuvergne was finally replaced at the ministerial post by Rufus Bousquet, one of the UWP members who demanded d 'Auvergne's departure.

Government support in Parliament failed in 2011 when several UWP members resigned. Finally, King announced elections in November of that year. In the election campaign, SLP leader Kenny Anthony pledged to take action to reduce crime, create jobs and better prospects for young people and improve the country's economy.

SLP regains power

The message went home and SLP got 11 seats in the election compared to 6 seats for UWP. Anthony was thus able to take up his post as prime minister again after five years in opposition. King resigned in July 2013 as UWP leader and was replaced by the former Minister of Tourism, Allen Chastanet.

During the 2011–2016 term, the SLP government, like previous governments, struggled to overcome the high crime rate and the country's financial problems.

In January 2016, Saint Lucia launched a contentious program that allows foreigners to buy citizenship in the country in exchange for investments worth at least US $ 200,000. Critics believe passport sales make it easier for criminals from abroad to launder black money in Saint Lucia's financial system.

 
 

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