General elections were held in Dominica on 24 March 1975 for the 21 elected seats in the House of Assembly using a first-past-the-post system.
The unicameral Parliament of Dominica, the House of Assembly, is composed of 21 elected Representatives, in single-member constituencies through a first-past-the-post system. Of the remaining eleven members, nine are appointed by the President (five on the advice of the Prime Minister and four on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition); and two - the Speaker and the Attorney General - are ex-officio. The normal duration of the legislature is five years.
The number of elected seats was increased by 10 to 21 for the 1975 election. On 12 February 1971, the House of Assembly unanimously passed a bill reducing the voting age for the purpose of elections to the House from 21 to 18 years of age.
Political Parties & Candidates
Sixty-two candidates including 10 independents contested the election. Four political parties presented candidates for the election. The Dominica Labour Party (DLP) presented a full slate of 11 candidates. The Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) presented 16 candidates, the Progressive Labour Party – 8, and the Caribbean Federal Party – 6.
DLP political leader Patrick John promised during the campaign to deal with ta radical leftist group called the “Dred” and to ease the serious economic situation.
The ruling Patrick John led Dominica Labour Party (DLP) gained a landslide victory in the general elections held on 24 March 1975. The DLP won 16 seats in the 21-seat house of assembly. Candidates from Dominica’s three opposition parties and independents, despite winning approximately 45% of the popular vote, fared badly in voting. The principal opposition party, the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), won only three seats while the remaining two seats were won by independents. The Caribbean Federal Party (CFP) and the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) failed to win any seats.
The only two candidates running out of eight DLP members of the house elected in 1970, Premier John and Education Minister H.L. Christian, retained their seats. Among the more prominent newly elected DLP members of the house were former Speaker of the House Eustace H. Francis, Michael Douglas, and DLP Vice President J. Oliver Seraphine.
Opposition leader in the House Anthony Moise and newcomer A. Anthony Casimir won seats as expected, but former member of the house R. Stanley Fadelle was defeated in an upset victory by DLP candidate Luke Cornette. Unofficial leader of the DFP Mary Eugenia Charles won a surprise victory over her DLP opponent by a large margin of 200 votes.
The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) failed to win any seats despite having been heavily favoured to win at least two of the eight seats it was contesting. Both PLP chairman Jenner B.M. Armour and Carib Indian Chief Macclem C. Frederick lost their races to their respective DLP opponents, Randolph Bannis and Lawrence Darroux. Darroux is the first Carib Indian ever elected to the Dominican House of Assembly. PLP founder Ronald O.P. Armour, former Leblanc protégé and Deputy Premier, lost his deposit in the race for the Newtown seat won by the DLP's Francis.
The Caribbean Federal Party likewise failed to win a seat. Independents also fared poorly as only two of the eleven running won seats. Pattison "Pat" A.S. Stevens and Conrad W. Cyrus were elected to the house as expected, but other independents regarded as strong candidates, for example, alleged MND member Eloi Sylvester and union leader Charles A. Savarin were defeated by their DLP opponents, Michael Douglas and Romanus Bannis.
Voter turnout in the election was high at 79.0% and the elections were conducted in a fair and honest manner.
After winning a large majority at the 1975 elections, John pursued the course agreed by the Associated States to seek independence separately. John became Dominica’s first Prime Minister when the island gained independence from Britain on 3 November 1978. Sir Louis Cools-Lartigue became the republic’s Interim non-executive President.
Patrick John was removed from office on 25 June 1979 during a period of labour unrest, and Oliver Seraphine of the Committee for National Salvation (CNS) was invited to form an interim government – formed from a coalition of Government and opposition groups – and prepare the way for elections within six months.