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.
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
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.
SLP 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
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
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
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.