Politics of Trinidad and Tobago

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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 head 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. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are answerable to the House of Representatives. The 41 members of the House are elected to terms of at least five years. Elections may be called earlier by the president at the request of the prime minister or after a vote of no confidence in the House of Representatives. In 1976, the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18. The Senate's 31 members are appointed by the President: 16 on the advice of the prime minister, six on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and nine independents selected by the President from among outstanding members of the community. Local government is through nine Regional Corporations and five municipalities. 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. 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. Most political parties, however, have sought to broaden their purview. In the run-up to the 2007 general election, a new political presence emerged called Congress of The People (COP). Led by Winston Dookeran, the majority of this membership was formed from former UNC members. 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.[1] Two major entities contested the election: the incumbent PNM, and a coalition called the People's Partnership, led by UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, comprising the UNC, COP, Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), and two labour and non-governmental organisations: the National Joint Action Committee and the Movement for Social Justice.[2] 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. The PNM won the remaining 12 seats and comprised the opposition in parliament.

After the period a new party also emerged from an ex-member of the United National Congress, known as the Independent Liberal Party which was founded by FIFA ex-vice president Jack Warner.

In the 2015 general election resulted in a victory for the People's National Movement, which won 23 of the 41 seats led by Keith Rowley.[3] In August 2020, Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s ruling party PNM won the general election again.[4]

Executive branch[edit]

President's House, the official residence of the president Trinidad and Tobago
Whitehall, the official residence of prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago
Main office-holders
Office Name Party Since
Independent 20 March 2023
Prime Minister
People's National Movement 9 September 2015

The President is elected by an electoral college, which consists of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President from among the members of Parliament; following legislative elections, the person with the most support among the elected members of the House of Representatives is appointed Prime Minister, usually the leader of the winning party. The cabinet is appointed from among the Members of Parliament, which constitutes elected Members of the House of Representatives and appointed Members of the Senate

Cabinet ministers of Trinidad and Tobago

Following the 2015 general elections, a number of ministries were removed, while others were consolidated or reintroduced.

Removed Consolidated Reintroduced
Ministry of the People Ministry of Works and Transport (formerly Min Works and Infrastructure and Min Transport) Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Gender Ministry of Rural Development (formerly Local Government) Ministry of Social Development
Ministry of Youth and Child Development -- --
Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism -- --
Ministry of Justice -- --
Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education -- --
Ministry of Food Production -- --
Ministry of Environment and Water Resources -- --
Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration -- --

Legislative branch[edit]

The Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 41 members, elected for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies. The Senate has 31 members: 16 Government Senators appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, six Opposition Senators appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and nine Independent Senators appointed by the President to represent other sectors of civil society. The 15 member Tobago House of Assembly has limited autonomy with respect to Tobago.

Party division by Parliamentary session[edit]

The following tables lists the party divisions for the House of Representatives and Tobago House of Assembly. Note that numbers in boldface denote the majority party at that particular time while italicized numbers signify a House in which the majority party changed intra-term.

Session Election PNM UNC  Total seats
12th Republic Monday, August 10, 2020 22 19 41
Session Election PNM UNC  COP Total seats
11th Republic Monday, September 7, 2015 23 17 1 41
Session Election PNM UNC  COP TOP Total seats
10th Republic Monday, 24 May 2010 12 21 6 2 41
Session Election PNM UNC Total seats
9th Republic Monday, 5 November 2007 26 15 41
8th Republic Monday, 7 October 2002 20 16 36
7th Republic Monday, 10 December 2001 18 18 36
Session Election PNM UNC NAR Total seats
6th Republic Monday, 11 December 2000 16 19 1 36
Session Election PNM UNC NAR Total seats
5th Republic Monday, 6 November 1995 17 17 2 36
4th Republic Monday, 16 December 1991 21 13 2 36
Session Election PNM NAR Total seats
3rd Republic Monday, 15 December 1986 3 33 36
Session Election PNM ULF DAC Total seats
2nd Republic Monday, 9 November 1981 26 8 2 36
1st Republic Monday, 13 September 1976 24 10 2 36
Session Election PNM Total seats
3rd Independent Monday, 24 May 1971 36 36
Session Election PNM DLP Total seats
2nd Independent Monday, 7 November 1966 24 12 36
1st Independent Monday, 4 December 1961 20 10 30
Session Election PNM PDP TLP-TND BP Independent Total seats
9th Legislative Council Monday, 24 September 1956 13 5 2 2 2 24
Session Election CSP POPPG TLP TUCSP BP Independent Total seats
8th Legislative Council Monday, 18 September 1950 1 2 2 1 6 6 18
Session Election UF TUCSP BP Independent Total seats
7th Legislative Council Monday, 28 October 1946 3 2 3 1 9
Session Election TLP UP Independent Total seats
6th Legislative Council Early 1938 3 2 2 7

Tobago House of Assembly[edit]

Session Election PNM PDP Independent Total seats
12th Monday, 6 December 2021 1 1 13 15
1 14
11th Monday, 25 January 2021 6 6 12
10th Monday, 23 January 2017 10 2 12
Session Election PNM Total seats
9th Monday, 21 January 2013 12 12
Session Election PNM TOP Total seats
8th Monday, 19 January 2009 8 4 12
Session Election PNM DAC  Total seats
7th Monday, 17 January 2005 11 1 12
Session Election PNM NAR  Total seats
6th Monday, 29 January 2001 8 4 12
Session Election PNM NAR  Independent Total seats
5th Monday, 9 December 1996 1 10 1 12
4th Monday, 7 December 1992 1 11 12
3rd Tuesday, 29 November 1988 1 11 12
Session Election PNM DAC  Total seats
2nd Monday, 26 November 1984 1 11 12
1st Monday, 24 November 1980 4 8 12

Partisan control of Parliament[edit]

This table shows the number of Parliaments in which a party controlled the House of Representatives and Tobago House of Assembly.

Party Parliament Prime Ministers
PNM 10 4
UNC 2 2
NAR 1 1
No overall control 2

Tobago House of Assembly[edit]

Party Assembly Chief Secretaries
PNM 5 3
NAR 3 3
DAC 2 1
PDP 1 1
Independent 1 1
No overall control 1

Judicial branch[edit]

The country's highest court is the Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago,[5] whose chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.[6] The current Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago is Ivor Archie.[7] Final appeal on some matters is decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. 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. However, the government has been unable to pass legislation to effect this change.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Trinidad is divided in five Municipalities Arima, Chaguanas, Port of Spain, Point Fortin, San Fernando and nine Regional Corporations Couva–Tabaquite–Talparo, Diego Martin, Penal–Debe, Princes Town, Mayaro–Rio Claro, San Juan–Laventille, Sangre Grande, Siparia, and Tunapuna–Piarco.

Local government in Tobago is handled by the Tobago House of Assembly.

International organization participation[edit]



  1. ^ Hutchinson-Jafar, Linda (16 April 2010). "Trinidad and Tobago sets early election May 24". Reuters. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  2. ^ "A look at The People's Partnership". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Opposition party wins elections in Trinidad and Tobago". Reuters. 8 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Trinidad and Tobago PM claims election victory for ruling party". Reuters. 11 August 2020.
  5. ^ admin. (2002). "Structure of the Judiciary". The Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
  6. ^ admin. (2002). "Appointment to the Judiciary". JT&T. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  7. ^ admin. (2008). "Chief judges and Chief justices of Trinidad and Tobago". JT&T. Retrieved 10 September 2010.

External links[edit]