The politics of Trinidad and Tobago function within the framework of a unitary state regulated by a parliamentary democracy modelled on that of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, from which the country gained its independence in 1962.
Under the 1976 republican Constitution, the monarch was replaced as [of state] by a President chosen by an electoral college composed of the members of the bicameral Parliament, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The country has remained a member of the Commonwealth, and has retained the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as its highest court of appeal. The general direction and control of the government rests with the Cabinet, led by a Prime Minister.
In 1976, the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18.
Tobago was given a measure of self-government in 1980 and is governed by the Tobago House of Assembly.
In 1996, Parliament passed legislation which gave Tobago greater self-government.
Trinidad and Tobago was chosen by its Caribbean neighbours (Caricom) to be the headquarters site of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which was supposed to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the fall of 2003.
In 2005 Parliament approved a proposal by the independent Elections and Boundaries Commission to increase the number of seats in the House of Representatives from 36 to 41. Party politics has generally run along ethnic lines, with most Afro-Trinidadians supporting the People's National Movement (PNM) and most Indo-Trinidadians supporting various Indian-majority parties, such as the current United National Congress (UNC) or its predecessors.
In the run-up to the 2007 general election, a new political presence emerged called Congress of The People (COP).
Despite gaining a significant but minority share of the vote in various constituencies, the COP failed to capture a single seat. An early general election was called on 16 April 2010, and was held on 24 May 2010.
The People's Partnership won 29 seats and the majority, with Kamla Persad-Bissessar being sworn in as the country's first female Prime Minister on 26 May 2010.
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Page generated on 2021-08-05