St. Lucia is a parliamentary democracy modelled on the Westminster system. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a Governor General, appointed by the Queen as her representative. The Governor General exercises ceremonial functions, but residual powers, under the constitution, can be used at the Governor General's discretion. The actual power in St. Lucia lies with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, usually representing the majority party in parliament.
The bicameral parliament consists of a 17-member House of Assembly whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage for 5-year terms, and an 11-member Senate appointed by the Governor General. The parliament may be dissolved by the Governor General at any point during its 5-year term, either at the request of the Prime Minister - in order to take the nation into early elections - or at the Governor General's own discretion, if the house passes a vote of no-confidence in the government.
An election allows those eligible to vote (the electorate) to decide who should represent their views and interests. Elections are held at regular intervals to enable the population to change their representative if they no longer feel that the current post-holder best represents those views and interests. Fair and free elections are an essential part of a democracy, allowing citizens to determine how they want the country to be governed.