St Vincent and the Grenadines profile

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor

Prime minister: Ralph Gonsalves

Ralph Gonsalves PM Ralph Gonsalves campaigned on his economic record

Known by many Vincentians as "Comrade Ralph", Mr Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party (ULP) won a third straight term in December 2010, in a narrow victory over the opposition New Democratic Party.

The prime minister said he was best suited to lead efforts to recover from the global economic slump. He cited his efforts to reduce poverty and improve access to education.

Under Mr Gonsalves, St Vincent and the Grenadines has forged deeper ties with international partners such as Venezuela, Cuba and Iran.

In 2009, voters rejected a referendum proposal to replace the British monarch as head of state with a president elected by parliament by a 57%-43% margin.

The PM campaigned strongly in favour of a "yes" vote. Both main parties supported abolishing the monarchy, but the opposition New Democratic Party had come out against the plan on offer, saying it did not do enough to reduce the power of the prime minister.

Mr Gonsalves was born in 1945 and practised as a lawyer. He first came to office in 2001, ending 15 years of rule by the New Democratic Party, and won a second term in late 2005.

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