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Guyana Politics

State and politics

GOVERNMENT

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.

Political System of Guyana

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 years.

Policy

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.

Judiciary

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 serious crimes.

Heads of State

Presidents *

1970-80 Arthur Chung
1980-85 Forbes Burnham
1985-92 Desmond Hoyte
1992-97 Cheddi Jagan
1997 Samuel A. Hinds
1997-99 Janet Jagan
1999-2011 Bharrat Jagdeo
2011-15 Donald Ramotar
2015- David Granger

* From independence from 1966 to 1970, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was head of state.

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