Ralph Gonsalves

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Ralph Gonsalves
Ralph Gonsalves 2023.jpg
Gonsalves in 2023
4th Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Assumed office
28 March 2001
MonarchsElizabeth II
Charles III
Governors-GeneralCharles Antrobus
Monica Dacon (Acting)
Frederick Ballantyne
Susan Dougan
DeputyGirlyn Miguel (2010–2015)
Louis Straker (2015–2020)
Montgomery Daniel (2020–)
Preceded byArnhim Eustace
Leader of the Unity Labour Party
Assumed office
6 December 1998
Preceded byVincent Beache
Chairman of the Caribbean Community
In office
1 July 2020[1] – 30 December 2021[2]
Secretary-GeneralIrwin LaRocque
Preceded byMia Mottley[1]
Succeeded byKeith Rowley[2]
In office
1 January 2014 – 30 June 2014
Secretary-GeneralIrwin LaRocque
Preceded byKamla Persad-Bissessar
Succeeded byGaston Browne[3]
Minister of Finance
In office
28 March 2001 – 10 November 2017
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byArnhim Eustace
Succeeded byCamillo Gonsalves
Member of Parliament
for North Central Windward
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1946-08-08) 8 August 1946 (age 76)
Colonarie, Saint Vincent, British Windward Islands
Political partyUnity Labour Party
SpouseEloise Harris
Alma materUniversity of the West Indies
University of Manchester
Inns of Court School of Law

Ralph Everard Gonsalves (born 8 August 1946) is a Vincentian politician. He is currently the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and leader of the Unity Labour Party (ULP).[4]

Gonsalves is the longest continuously serving head of government since St. Vincent and the Grenadines became independent in 1979. He became Prime Minister after his party won a majority government in the 2001 general election. He was the first Prime Minister from the newly constructed ULP, following a merger of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party and the Movement for National Unity.[5]

Gonsalves has been Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of North Central Windward since 1994. In 1994, upon the formation of the Unity Labour Party he became deputy leader, and became leader of the party in 1998.[5]

With Gonsalves as leader, the ULP won a majority in the popular vote in every general election from 1998 through 2015, though it failed to secure the majority of parliamentary seats in the 1998 election. In 2020, the ULP won the election, but did not win the popular vote.[6] On 7 November 2020, Gonsalves was sworn in for his fifth term as Prime Minister.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Gonsalves, known affectionately as "Comrade Ralph", was born in Colonarie, Saint Vincent, British Windward Islands to his father, Alban Gonsalves, a farmer and small businessman (now deceased), and his mother, Theresa Francis, a small businesswoman. His ancestors came to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 1845 as indentured servants from the Portuguese island of Madeira.[4]

Gonsalves attended Colonarie Roman Catholic School, and later the St. Vincent Grammar School. He then enrolled at the University of the West Indies, where he completed a bachelor's degree in economics. He later returned there to earn a master's degree in government, which he completed in 1971. In 1974 he completed a doctorate in government at the University of Manchester. Gonsalves was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in London in 1981.[8] He also attended Makerere University in Uganda according to his address at the United Nations during the Africa Day event on 25 May 2019.

Political career[edit]

Gonsalves in 2013

Gonsalves became involved in politics at university, as president of the University of West Indies' Guild of Undergraduates and Debating Society. In 1968, he led a student protest of the deportation of historian and intellectual Walter Rodney by the Jamaican government.[9]

In 1994, Gonsalves became the deputy leader of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party. After the resignation of Vincent Beache, Gonsalves became leader of the party in 1998.[5] Gonsalves later led the Unity Labour Party to win the 2001 general election, becoming Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. His ULP was re-elected in the 2005 general election. In the 2010 general election, Gonsalves and the ULP were narrowly re-elected with 51.11% of the popular vote.[10]

Gonsalves at a CARICOM meeting in 2016 with President of Chile Michelle Bachelet and Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz

In 2009 Gonsalves and the ULP led a referendum campaign[11] in favour of constitutional reform that would have abolished the country's constitutional monarchy, replacing Elizabeth II[12] with a non-executive president. The referendum was defeated, with 55.64% of voters rejecting the changes.[13] Gonsalves has persisted in his calls for the establishment of a presidency, proposing another referendum in 2022 to replace the monarchy while also voicing support to rename places in the country named after colonial figures such as Victoria Park.[14]

In November 2017 Gonsalves gave up the portfolio of Minister of Finance to his son, Camillo Gonsalves.[15]

On 3 July 2020, Gonsalves was elected Chairman of the Caribbean Community succeeding Mia Amor Mottley.[9] His 6-month term ended on 1 January 2021, and he was succeeded by Trinidad and Tobago prime minister, Keith Rowley.

In November 2020, Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines since 2001, made history by securing the fifth consecutive victory of his Unity Labour Party (ULP) in general election.[16]

Gosalves attended the coronation of Charles III at Westminster Abbey along with governor-general Susan Dougan on 6 May 2023. Gosalves met with the King and other leaders of the Commonwealth the day prior.[17]

Gonsalves supports the Death Penalty.[18][19]

Outside politics[edit]

Gonsalves practices law before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.[4] He has written and published on a range of matters including the Caribbean, Africa, trade unionism, comparative political economy, and developmental issues generally.

Personal life[edit]

Gonsalves has been married twice; currently he is married to Eloise Harris. He has two sons by his first marriage, Camillo and Adam; one son by his second wife, Storm; and two daughters, Isis and Soleil. Camillo followed his father into politics, and is currently serving as Minister of Finance.[15]

2021 anti-vaccine protest attack[edit]

On Thursday, August 5, 2021, at a protest against mandatory vaccination from COVID-19 organized by trade unions representing nurses, police and other workers,[20] Gonsalves was attacked with a projectile near the entrance to Parliament. He sustained visible injuries to his head in the attack. The attack occurred during a large protest against masks and vaccinations in the country.[21] Gonsalves was rushed to the hospital where he was confirmed to be in a stable condition.[22][23]

International honours[edit]



  • Diary of a Prime Minister: Ten days among Benedictine Monks
  • The Making of 'the Comrade': The Political Journey of Ralph Gonsalves
  • The spectre of imperialism: the case of the Caribbean (University of the West Indies; 128 pages, 1976)
  • The non-capitalist path of development: Africa and the Caribbean (One Caribbean Publishers; 1981)
  • History and the future: a Caribbean perspective (169 pages, 1994)
  • Notes on some basic ideas in Marxism-Leninism (University of the West Indies; 56 pages)


  • The role of labour in the political process of St. Vincent (1935–1970) (Master's Thesis, 1971)[27]
  • The politics of trade unions and industrial relations in Uganda (1950–1971) (Doctoral Thesis, 1974)[28]


  • The Rodney affair and its aftermath (University of the West Indies; 21 pages, 1975)
  • The development and class character of the bourgeois state: the case of St. Vincent (University of the West Indies; 15 pages, 1976)
  • Controls and influences on the civil service and statutory bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean: a preliminary discussion (University of the West Indies; 67 pages, 1977)
  • The development of the labour movement in St. Vincent (37 pages, 1977)
  • Who killed sugar in St. Vincent? (United Liberation Movement; 21 pages, 1977)
  • On the political economy of Barbados (One Caribbean Publishers; 49 pages, 1981)
  • The trade union movement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Movement for National Unity; 64 pages, 1983)
  • Ebenezer Joshua: his ideology and style (Movement for National Unity; 39 pages, 1984)
  • (editor) The trial of George McIntosh (Caribbean Diaspora Press; 80 pages, 1985)
  • Authority in the police force: its uses and abuses (Movement for National Unity; 45 pages, 1986)
  • Banana in trouble: its present and future (Movement for National Unity; 22 pages, 1989)


  1. ^ a b "CARICOM Heads of Government Meet on Friday – Handover of Chairmanship to feature". 2 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Jamaica Observer Limited". Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  3. ^ "PM leads ministerial delegation to CARICOM Heads meetings". thebahamasweekly.com. Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Profile Archived 6 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, caribbeanelections.com; accessed 1 September 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Profile Archived 28 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, caribbeanelections.com; accessed 1 September 2014.
  6. ^ "ULP wins 5 in a row". iWitness News. 6 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  7. ^ "GG urges PM to continue inclusive governance". iWitness News. 7 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  8. ^ Profiles of People in Power: The World's Government Leaders. London & New York City: Routledge. 2003. p. 445. ISBN 9781317639404.
  9. ^ a b "Ralph Gonsalves: St. Vincent and Grenadines Prime Minister is New Chairman of CARICOM". Caribbean National Weekly. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  10. ^ Profile, caribbean360.com; accessed 1 September 2014.
  11. ^ Profile, caribbean360.com; accessed 1 September 2014.
  12. ^ Profile, pdba.georgetown.edu; accessed 1 September 2014.
  13. ^ Profile Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, antillean.org, 26 November 2009; accessed 1 September 2014.
  14. ^ "St Vincent's PM proposes vote on removing Queen as head of state | Loop Caribbean News". Loop News. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Camillo becomes Minister of Finance in major cabinet reshuffle – iWitness News". www.iwnsvg.com. 9 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Ralph romps to fifth straight election win in St Vincent and the Grenadines". jamaica-gleaner.com. 6 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Delegation from SVG at Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey". www.searchlight.vc. 6 May 2023. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  18. ^ "Pope wrong on death penalty, some crimes require it: St Vincent PM".
  19. ^ "St Vincent PM Ralph Gonsalves calls for hangman's return - Trinidad and Tobago Newsday". 18 April 2023.
  20. ^ "St Vincent PM recovering in hospital after rock attack by anti-vaccine protester", The Guardian, 6 August 2021
  21. ^ "St. Vincent PM injured at protest, bleeding from injury - media". Reuters. 6 August 2021. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  22. ^ "SVG Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves injured in protest | Loop Caribbean News". Loop News. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  23. ^ "Head scan in Barbados for Gonsalves following injury in protest". Barbados Today. 6 August 2021. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  25. ^ Cooke, Ernesto (27 May 2022). "PM Gonsalves says 'This medal belongs to the Caribbean'". St Vincent Times. St Vincent Times. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  26. ^ "President Chen Bestows the Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon on Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves". Office of the President. 9 September 2003. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  27. ^ Gonsalves, Ralph E. (1971). The role of labour in the political process of St. Vincent (1935–1970) (MSc). Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies. OCLC 55894598.
  28. ^ Gonsalves, Ralph E. (1974). The politics of trade unions and industrial relations in Uganda (1950–1971) (DPhil). Manchester, UK: University of Manchester. OCLC 973805455.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Vincent Beache
Leader of the Unity Labour Party
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chairman of the Caribbean Community
Succeeded by