State and politics
According to the 1980 constitution, Guyana is a
cooperative republic within the Commonwealth, where the
president exercises executive power. The President, who
represents the largest party in Parliament, appoints a
government that is collectively responsible to Parliament.
Nowadays, the president is only allowed to sit for two terms
in five years. Until 1970, the British monarch was head of
state. Since then, all heads of state with one exception
have been men.
Parliament, the National Assembly, has the legislative
power and consists of 65 elected members, 40 of whom are
elected through a proportional electoral system and 25
members are elected from regional lists under a proportional
system. At least one third of the candidates must be women.
As Parliament can be expanded by up to seven appointed
members, including the President, after the 2015 election,
the National Assembly had 69 members, of whom 21 (30
percent) were women. Elections must be held every five
Guyana's political history has been marked by tearing up
political battles between the People's Progressive Party
(PPP) and the People's National Congress (PNC),
parliamentary boycotts and periodic crippling legislative
work. It has also strengthened the ethnic divides in the
Guyanese society and in politics, where voting has
traditionally followed ethnicity; PNC is the party of the
blacks and the PPP of the Indo-Guyanese (See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how GY can stand for Guyana.).
The 1992 election, when the PPP triumphed with the
presidential candidate Cheddi Jagan, marked the end of a
28-year reign of PNC. This led to riots in Georgetown among
mainly Afro-Guyanese PNC sympathizers.
In December 1994, the National Assembly adopted the PPP's
proposal to form a parliamentary committee with the task of
proposing constitutional reforms, which would be implemented
before the 1997 elections. But the PNC voted against and
proposed a Constituent Assembly. As a result, the two-thirds
majority required for a constitutional amendment was not
achieved. Constitutional changes, on the other hand, came
into force in 2001. The country's highest court subsequently
annulled the 1997 election, which was also riddled with
turmoil and won by the late President Cheddi Jagan's widow
Janet Jagan (1920–2009). She resigned in 1999 and was
replaced by Bharrat Jagdeo. He could remain as president
after the 2001 and 2006 elections.
At the 2011 election, the PPP, which has been in
coalition with the Civic party since the 1990s and
is therefore often called the PPP-Civic, is again the
largest party, but Bagdeo was not allowed to sit for another
term as president and instead Donald Ramotar was elected new
president. The largest opposition party, which since 2000
calls itself PNC Reform (PNC-R), formed before the 2011
election the Alliance A Partnership for National Unity
(APNU) together with several smaller parties.
After being confronted with the threat of a vote of no
confidence, Ramotar suspended parliament in November 2014,
and in May 2015, elections were announced a year in advance.
In collaboration with the Alliance for Change
(AFC), APNU managed to get a mandate more than PPP-C, 33
against 32. The leader of PNC-R, David Granger, was thus
able to take over as new president. The PPP-C claimed that
the election fraud occurred, but the election was approved
by foreign observers.
In 1917, Guyana began to apply English law, with
amendments and additions through local regulations.
Independence in 1966 did not bring about any change in this
regard, but later legal developments have increased the
differences between the English legal system and the
Guyanese. Some parts of Roman law in Dutch vintage (Roman-Dutch
law) are applied in respect of the right to land. The
highest courts are the Court of Appeal and the
High Court. The death penalty can be punished for some
Heads of State
||Samuel A. Hinds
* From independence from 1966 to 1970, Britain's Queen
Elizabeth II was head of state.