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Government in Trinidad & Tobago
 
 
 

General

Trinidad & Tobago is a republic with a two-party system and a bicameral parliamentary system based on the Westminster system. The head of state of Trinidad & Tobago is the president, while the head of government is the prime minister. The president is elected by an Electoral College consisting of the full membership of both houses of Parliament. The prime minister is elected from the results of a general election which takes place every five years.

The president is required to appoint the leader of the party who in his opinion has the most support of the members of the House of Representatives to this post; this has generally been the leader of the party which won the most seats in the previous election. Tobago also has its own elections, separate from the general elections. In these elections, members are elected and serve in the Tobago House of Assembly. The 15 member Tobago House of Assembly has limited autonomy with respect to Tobago.

The Parliament consists of two chambers, the Senate (31 seats) and the House of Representatives (41 seats). The members of the Senate are appointed by the president. 16 government senators are appointed on the advice of the prime minister, six opposition senators are appointed on the advice of the leader of the opposition and nine independent senators are appointed by the president to represent other sectors of civil society. The 41 members of the House of Representatives are elected by the people for a maximum term of five years in a "first past the post" system.

The country's highest court is the Court of Appeal, whose chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and leader of the opposition. Final appeal on some matters is decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. Trinidad & 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. However, the government has been unable to pass legislation to effect this change.

Overview

Country name : conventional long form: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
conventional short form: Trinidad and Tobago
Government type : parliamentary democracy
Capital

: name: Port-of-Spain
geographic coordinates: 10 39 N, 61 31 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions : 9 regional corporations, 2 city corporations, 3 borough corporations, 1 ward
regional corporations: Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Diego Martin, Mayaro/Rio Claro, Penal/Debe, Princes Town, Sangre Grande, San Juan/Laventille, Siparia, Tunapuna/Piarco
city corporations: Port-of-Spain, San Fernando
borough corporations: Arima, Chaguanas, Point Fortin
ward: Tobago
Independence : 31 August 1962 (from the UK)
National holiday : Independence Day, 31 August (1962)
Constitution : 08/01/76
Legal system
: based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage : 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
: chief of state: President George Maxwell RICHARDS (since 17 March 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister Kamla PERSAD-BISSESSAR (since 26 May 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed from among the members of Parliament
elections: president elected by an electoral college, which consists of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 11 February 2008 (next to be held by February 2013); the president usually appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives
election results: George Maxwell RICHARDS reelected president; percent of electoral college vote - NA
Legislative branch

: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (31 seats; 16 members appointed by the ruling party, 9 by the President, 6 by the opposition party to serve a maximum term of five years) and the House of Representatives (41 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives - last held on 24 May 2010 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote - NA; seats by party - UNC 21, PNM 12, COP 6, TOP 2
note: Tobago has a unicameral House of Assembly with 12 members serving four-year terms; last election held in January 2005; seats by party - PNM 11, DAC 1
Judicial branch : Supreme Court of Judicature (comprised of the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeals; the chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; other justices are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission); the highest court of appeal is the Privy Council in London; member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
Political parties and leaders

: Congress of the People or COP [Winston DOOKERAN]; Democratic Action Congress or DAC [Hochoy CHARLES] (only active in Tobago); Democratic National Alliance or DNA [Gerald YETMING] (coalition of NAR, DDPT, MND); Movement for National Development or MND [Garvin NICHOLAS]; National Alliance for Reconstruction or NAR [Dr. Carson CHARLES]; People's National Movement or PNM [Patrick MANNING]; Tobago Organization of the People or TOP [Ashworth JACK]; United National Congress or UNC [Kamla PERSAD-BISSESSAR]
Political pressure groups and leaders
: Jamaat-al Muslimeen [Yasin BAKR]
International organisation participation
: ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-24, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Paris Club (associate), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
: chief of mission: Ambassador vacant; Charge d'Affaires Donna HENRY
chancery: 1708 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 467-6490
fax: [1] (202) 785-3130
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US
: chief of mission: Ambassador Beatrice W. WELTERS
embassy: 15 Queen's Park West, Port-of-Spain
mailing address: P. O. Box 752, Port-of-Spain
telephone: [1] (868) 622-6371 through 6376
fax: [1] (868) 822-5905
Flag description : red with a white-edged black diagonal band from the upper hoist side to the lower fly side; the colours represent the elements of earth, water, and fire; black stands for the wealth of the land and the dedication of the people; white symbolises the sea surrounding the islands, the purity of the country's aspirations, and equality; red symbolises the warmth and energy of the sun, the vitality of the land, and the courage and friendliness of its people
 

 
 

 



 


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