From the 17th Century until 1967, St. Kitts was governed by England as part of the colony of the Leeward Islands, and later, the West Indies Federation. In 1967, St. Kitts and Nevis along with Anguilla became a governing state with Great Britain. In that same year, Anguilla seceded from the State.
In 1983, St. Kitts and Nevis achieved full political independence from Britain. Hence, Nevis enjoys all of the advantages of an independent democratic state within the Commonwealth of Nations. Consequently, the Federation ceased being an Associated State and attained the status of Sovereign and Democratic Federal State, which is an independent participant of the British Commonwealth. Under this sovereign status, St. Kitts and Nevis has adopted the British Parliamentary System of Government. However, Nevis has its own unicameral legislature and government that has the authority to formulate its own economic decisions. The Federation also has its own representation at the United Nations.
Since gaining independence, the Federation has had a history of political stability based upon the Westminster model of government and continuity of national policy. Freedom House, an independent and highly respected research organization in the USA, has also adjudged the Federation to be among the world's freest nations.
The Prime Minister is the Head of Government of St.Kitts and Nevis. There is a House of Assembly headed by a Speaker of the House. Elections are held every five years.
St. Kitts and Nevis have a single National Assembly responsible for making laws, and comprising 15 members. 11 of these are directly elected representatives whilst three are senators appointed by the governor-general (two on the advice of the prime minister and the third on the advice of the leader of the opposition). The attorney general who was not appointed as a senator, automatically gets a seat as one, increasing the number of senators to four. Of the 11 elected members, eight represent consituencies in St. Kitts and the remaining three represent Nevis seats.
The prime minister is appointed from the representatives by the governor general, who has a constitutional duty to select someone who is likely to command the support of the majority of the representatives. In practice this would normally mean the leader of the majority party or coalition. If there is no suitable candidate, then the governor general can dissolve the assembly and trigger a general election. Other ministers are also appointed by the governor general, on the advice of the prime minister (and so effectively by the prime minister). The prime minister can be removed from office by the assembly, or by the governor general if he feels that the prime minister no longer enjoys the support of the majority of representatives. The assembly is elected every five years unless the governor general dissolves it before the end of this period, which he may do on the advice of the prime minister.