|St Kitts Nevis Politics|
The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis is located in the Leeward Islands and is a federal, two-island nation in the West Indies. Although large in name, Saint Kitts and Nevis is the smallest sovereign nation in the Americas in terms of both size and population. The capital is located on the large island of Saint Kitts, which is called Basseterre. Nevis is a smaller island in comparison to size, therefore one of the main reasons as to why the capital is on Saint Kitts.
St Kitts Nevis Early History
St Kitts was discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, who named it after his patron saint, Saint Christopher. The island became the site of the first official English settlement in the West Indies in 1623. It was seized by the French several times in both the 17 and 18th centuries, but was finally ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1783. St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla were united as a British dependency in 1871 that became an internally self-governing member of the West Indies Associated States in 1967. Anguilla would not share the same fate as St Kitts and Nevis due to the internal conflict on the island. After all three became self-governing, Anguillans rebelled and their island was allowed to separate from Saint Kitts and Nevis in 1971.
St Kitts Nevis Independence
After becoming self-governing, the next logical step for St Kitts and Nevis was to gain full independence, which they finally did in 1983. On 19th September 1983, Saint Kitts and Nevis gained full independence within the British Commonwealth of Nations. The two islands, though named differently, were not under one federal flag and one national government. Unlike other duel named democracies, Saint Kitts and Nevis appear to be functioning extremely well together, unlike their former island of Anguilla, which achieved its own independence in 1983.
St Kitts Nevis Political Realm
St Kitts and Nevis is a British overseas territory, therefore the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. Since the Queen is unable to reside in Saint Kitts and Nevis, a Governor General is appointed to represent her. The current Governor General is Sir Cuthbert Sebastian. The Prime Minister and head of government on Saint Kitts and Nevis is Dr. Denzil Douglas.
These three individuals create the executive branch of government, which is the highest form of power in St Kitts and Nevis. Under the current constitution of St Kitts and Nevis, Nevis has considerable autonomy and has its own island assembly, premier, and a deputy governor general. If certain conditions are met, Nevis is allowed to leave the federation. A referendum that was held in 1998 actually tried to split the two islands apart, however, it failed to achieve the two-thirds popular vote that was needed to guarantee secession.
Another referendum was held in 2004, however, it also failed. It was becoming clear that Nevis would need to be afforded more rights in order to ensure that the two islands would remain under the same federation. The government of St Kitts and Nevis acknowledged the rights of Nevisians to determine their future independence. Constitutional safeguards were then placed that ensured freedom of speech, press, worship, movement and association.
St Kitts and Nevis Today
St Kitts and Nevis is unique in that it is comprised of a two island nation, under one federation, which is a dominion of Great Britain. It appears visually that there must be a lot of government regulations imposed on the two islands since they are geographically split. Although their future as a federation remains in question, St Kitts and Nevis both realise that differences must be met with reasoned logic and cannot simply be brushed aside. This type of resentment built up in Canada until Quebec nearly separated in 1995. St Kitts and Nevis should use this as a reminder on how not to negotiate.