Newfoundland and Labrador - Government and Politics

Government and Politics

See also: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Politics of Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is governed by a parliamentary government within the construct of constitutional monarchy; the monarchy in Newfoundland and Labrador is the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, who also serves as head of state of 15 other Commonwealth countries, each of Canada's nine other provinces, and the Canadian federal realm, and resides predominantly in the United Kingdom. As such, the Queen's representative, the Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador (presently John Crosbie), carries out most of the royal duties in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The direct participation of the royal and viceroyal figures in any of these areas of governance is limited; in practice, their use of the executive powers is directed by the Executive Council, a committee of ministers of the Crown responsible to the unicameral, elected House of Assembly and chosen and headed by the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador (presently Kathy Dunderdale), the head of government. To ensure the stability of government, the lieutenant governor will usually appoint as premier the person who is usually the current leader of the political party that can obtain the confidence of a plurality in the House of Assembly. The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition (presently Dwight Ball) and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check.

Each of the 48 Members of the House of Assembly (MHA) is elected by simple plurality in an electoral district. General elections must be called by the lieutenant governor on the second Tuesday in October four years after the previous election, or may be called, on the advice of the premier, should the government lose a confidence vote in the legislature. Traditionally, politics in the province have been dominated by both the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party. However, in the 2011 provincial election the New Democratic Party, which had only ever attained minor success, had a major breakthrough and placed second in the popular vote behind the Progressive Conservatives.

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