St.Kitts and Nevis is a country located in the region of North America. Between 1995 and 2015, Saint Kitts and Nevis were ruled by the Labor Party and its leader Denzil Douglas. However, in the February 2015 election, the Labor Party was defeated by the newly formed party alliance Unity Team. Domestic policy is dominated by the question of how the country will deal with the high crime rate associated with the islands’ location in the middle of the smuggling belt of drugs from Latin America to North America. The number of murders per inhabitant is among the highest in the world.
After the 2010 election, the Labor Party government passed several crime prevention measures. Surveillance cameras were placed at particularly vulnerable locations in Basseterre on Saint Kitts and in Charlestown on Nevis. The issue of law enforcement was renewed in November of the same year when a tourist bus was stopped by robbers, which caused two cruise lines to change their route from Saint Kitts to Antigua.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of St. Kitts and Nevis, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
In February 2011, Parliament passed a controversial bill that gave the authorities the right to intercept telecommunications traffic. Later that year, Prime Minister Douglas himself took command of the security forces and police, creating a special law enforcement force, Delta Squad, that would target the criminal gang and drug trafficking.
A new party is formed
Despite these measures, the number of homicides in 2011 increased to a record high of 34, which was twice the average level in the Caribbean which was already high. The following year, the number of murders dropped to 18, and Douglas claimed that the level of crime had gone down overall. From 2013, cocaine smuggling was reported to increase sharply and three years later the number of homicides had increased to 31. In relation to the population, it was the highest homicide rate in the Caribbean and ten times higher than that in the United States.
The year 2013 was marked by a political crisis which, by extension, led to a shift in power after close to two decades with the Labor Party. Two ministers, Sam Condor and Timothy Harris, left their posts after quarreling with Douglas. They opposed, among other things, the Prime Minister’s proposal to increase the number of senators in Parliament and to sell off state-owned land to reduce the government debt.
The defection undermined the government’s position in Parliament. The opposition tried to force a distrust vote against the government, but Douglas blocked the attempts. In June, the two departed ministers formed a new party, the People’s Workers ‘Party (PLP), which in September entered into an Alliance Alliance, the Unity Team, with the opposition right-wing People’s Action Movement (PAM) and the Nevis-based Affected Citizens’ Movement (CCM).
The tug-of-war between Douglas and the opposition continued. The government succeeded in curbing new attempts by the opposition to get the vote of no confidence. The opposition, for its part, could stop a proposal for a new constituency.
Power change after 20 years
The Labor Party was obviously the party that lost most on the grid. In the parliamentary elections in February 2015, the Unity Team won 7 of the 11 electoral seats, of which PLP received 1 mandate, PAM 4 and CCM 2 mandate. The Labor Party halved its representation from 6 to 3 seats. A mandate went to Nevis Renewal Party (NRP), representing the residents of the island of Nevis. The turnout was just over 72 percent.
Unity Team Leader Timothy Harris formed a new government. Harris himself took charge of a number of policy areas such as finance, sustainable development, national security and the issue of new constituencies. PAM leader Shawn Richards was named Vice Prime Minister and Education Minister, among others.
In 2015, a new six-point plan was introduced for the police corps with the aim of increasing the safety of residents and reducing the number of serious crimes. Already in October of that year, reports came out that the number of serious crimes had decreased by almost a quarter.
Saint Kitts and Nevis have, under Prime Minister Harris’s government, received continued criticism from, among other things, the US and the EU for not doing enough to stop the money laundering and tax evasion that is going on in the country. The US and Canada are also critical of Saint Kitts and Nevis selling citizenship in exchange for investment, which critics believe is attracting people who want to launder money they have illegally come across. By the beginning of 2016, almost 10,800 passports had been issued through this program since it was created in 1984.
FACTS – POLITICS
Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis / Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis
Head of State
Queen Elizabeth II (1952–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Timothy Harris (2015–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Unity Team 7, Labor Party 3, Nevis Renewal Party 1 (2015)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Labor Party 6, People’s Action Movement 2, Affected Citizens’ Movement 2, Nevis Renewal Party 1 (2010)
72% in the 2015 parliamentary elections, 80% in the 2010 parliamentary elections
parliamentary elections by 2020