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Republic Day

Republic Day is one of the public holidays in Trinidad and Tobago. It is celebrated on September 24 to commemorate the day Trinidad and Tobago became a republic.

On August 1, 1962, Trinidad and Tobago achieved full independence from the United Kingdom as a Commonwealth realm. Queen Elizabeth II was the country's titular head of state. She was represented by Governor-General, but it was the country's Prime Minister who had the real power.

In 1976, Trinidad and Tobago decided to abolish monarchy and become a republic within the Commonwealth. On August 1, 1976, the new constitution was promulgated, and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago was born.

However, Republic Day is celebrated on September 24 to commemorate the date when the country's Parliament had its first session. Such a date was chosen to avoid coincidence with Independence Day and give the citizens two public holidays instead of one holiday dedicated to two events.

Republic Day was not celebrated from 1999 to 2001 to make room for Spiritual Baptist/Shouter Liberation Day. In 2002, the holiday was reinstated and has been observed every year ever since. Republic Day is typically celebrated with official speeches, parades, dances, and other festive events.

What it means to be a Republic

A republic is a sovereign state or country which is organized with a form of government in which power resides in elected individuals representing the citizen body and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law. In modern times, the definition of a republic is commonly referred to a government which excludes a monarch.

Trinidad and Tobago is a republic with a two-party system and a bicameral parliamentary system based on the Westminster System. The head of state of Trinidad and Tobago is the President, currently Anthony Carmona. The head of government is the Prime Minister, currently Keith Rowley. The President is elected by an Electoral college consisting of the full membership of both houses of Parliament.

The Prime Minister is elected from the results of a general election which takes place every five years. The President is required to appoint the leader of the party who in his opinion has the most support of the members of the House of Representatives to this post; this has generally been the leader of the party which won the most seats in the previous election (except in the case of the 2001 General Elections). Tobago also has its own elections, separate from the general elections. In these elections, members are elected and serve in the Tobago House of Assembly.

Parliament consists of the Senate (31 seats) and the House of Representatives (41 seats). The members of the Senate are appointed by the president. Sixteen Government Senators are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, six Opposition Senators are appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and nine Independent Senators are appointed by the President to represent other sectors of civil society. The 41 members of the House of Representatives are elected by the people for a maximum term of five years in a "first past the post" system.