Ralph Gonsalves
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Ralph Gonsalves

Ralph Everard Gonsalves (born 8 August 1946) is a Vincentian politician. He currently serves as the 4th Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and leader of the Unity Labour Party (ULP).[1]

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.[2]

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.[2]

With Gonsalves as leader, the ULP has won a majority in the popular vote in every general election since 1998 though it failed to secure the majority of parliamentary seats in the 1998 election.

Early life and education

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 business woman). His foreparents came to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 1845 as indentured servants from the Portuguese island of Madeira.[1]

He attended Colonarie Roman Catholic School, and later the St Vincent Grammar School. Gonsalves 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 PhD in government at the University of Manchester. Gonsalves was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in London in 1981.[3] 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

President Tsai of Republic of China (Taiwan) exchanges gifts with Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño of Ecuador met with the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves.

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.[]

In 1994, Gonsalves became the deputy leader of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party. After the resignation of Vincent Beache, Gonsalves became leader of the party in 1998.[2] Gonsalves later led the Unity Labour Party to win the 2001 general election, becoming Prime Minister. 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.[4]

In 2009 Gonsalves and the ULP led a referendum campaign[5] in favour of constitutional reform that would have abolished the country's constitutional monarchy, replacing Elizabeth II[6] with a non-executive president. The referendum was defeated, with 55.64% of voters rejecting the changes.[7]

Outside politics

Gonsalves practices law before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.[1] 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

Gonsavles 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.

Publications

Books

  • 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)

Pamphlets

  • 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)

References

  1. ^ a b c Profile Archived 6 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, caribbeanelections.com; accessed 1 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Profile Archived 28 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, caribbeanelections.com; accessed 1 September 2014.
  3. ^ Profiles of People in Power: The World's Government Leaders. London & New York City: Routledge. 2003. p. 445.
  4. ^ Profile, caribbean360.com; accessed 1 September 2014.
  5. ^ Profile, caribbean360.com; accessed 1 September 2014.
  6. ^ Profile, pdba.georgetown.edu; accessed 1 September 2014.
  7. ^ Profile Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, antillean.org, 26 November 2009; accessed 1 September 2014.
Political offices
Preceded by
Arnhim Eustace
Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
2001-present
Incumbent

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