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Happy 71st Birthday to Dr. Ralph Gonsalves 4th PM of Saint Vincent and the Grendines born August 8, 1946

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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]

He became Prime Minister after his party won a majority government in the 2001 general election. He is 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]

Gonsalves’ ULP won another majority government in 2005 general election, winning 12 seats. On 13 December 2010, Gonsalves’ ULP was re-elected, showing a decrease in the popular vote and winning 8 seats.[3] On 9 December 2015, Gonsalves managed to retain all 8 seats from the previous election while creating history in the Caribbean by increasing overall popular vote.

Early life and education[edit]

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-ruled island of Madeira, some 300 kilometers off the north-west coast of Morocco in North West Africa.[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 degree of utter barrister at Gray’s Inn in London in 1981.[1]

Political career[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[3]

In 2009 Gonsalves and the ULP led a referendum campaign[4] in favour of constitutional reform that would have abolished the country’s constitutional monarchy, replacing Elizabeth II[5] with a non-executive president. The referendum was defeated, with 55.64% of voters rejecting the changes.[6]

Outside politics[edit]

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[edit]

Gonsavles has been married twice currently he is married to Eloise Harris. He has two sons by his first marriage Camillo and Adam, and one by his second wife Storm, and two daughters, Isis and Soleil.

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