Antigua and Barbuda Government and Politics

State and politics

Formerly part of the British West Indies (1958-62), the two islands obtained internal self-government in 1967 and independence within the Commonwealth on November 1, 1981. Dominant political force since the 1950s, except in the 1971 period -76, is the Antigua Labor Party (ALP) whose leader, V. Bird, has been prime minister since 1976. There are close ties with the United States which has two military bases on the island of Antigua and Barbuda and feed much of the tourist flow, the country’s main source of income.

Antigua and Barbuda Country Flag


Antigua and Barbuda are an independent member of the Commonwealth. The British monarch is the head of state and is represented by a general governor who is a citizen of the country. Parliament consists of two chambers. The Senate has 17 members, who are appointed by the Governor-General on a proposal by the Prime Minister (eleven senators) and the opposition leader (four senators). The House of Representatives consists of 18 members, 17 of whom are elected by majority vote in one-man constituencies; In addition, the President, elected by the Members of Parliament. Parliament’s term of office is five years and the voting age is 18 years.

The Governor-General appoints to the Prime Minister the member of the House of Representatives supported by a majority of the members and on his proposal also other Ministers.


The Antigua Labor Party (ALP), which has dominated Antigua and Barbuda political life since 1976, lost its majority in the March 2004 parliamentary elections and a new head of government became Baldwin Spencer (born 1948) from the largest opposition party United Progressive Party (UPP). A small party, the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), wants Barbuda, which is the smaller of the country’s two inhabited islands, to have a special status and a significant influence over their own local affairs.

Although the ALP-led Bird family had close contact with US billionaire Allen Stanford, who was indicted in 2009 and later convicted of multi-billion-class fraud in the United States, the ALP went ahead somewhat in the March 2009 election. UPP retained power and Spencer took over second period as prime minister. In late 2012, Gaston Browne (born 1967) was elected new party leader for ALP, the first in this role not named Bird in last name; however, he is a close friend of the family and later married into the same.

The 2014 election was a great success for Browne and the ruling party (which by then renamed the Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party, ABLP), which received 56 percent of the vote and 14 of 17 seats. ABLP’s dominance was further strengthened in the 2018 election as the party received 15 of the elective seats while UPP and BPM received one each. Of the total number of MPs, two (11 percent) were women.


The legal system is almost entirely based on English law. Antigua and Barbuda have their own magistrates’ courts and the Court of Summary Jurisdiction, while the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, based in Saint Lucia, is shared with a number of other small estates with English-inspired law. The highest court is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. The death penalty can be punished for some serious crimes.

Antigua and Barbuda Head of Government

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