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World > North America > Bahamas, The > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Bahamas, The - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The Bahamas is an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is a parliamentary democracy with regular elections. As a Commonwealth country, its political and legal traditions closely follow those of the United Kingdom. The Bahamas recognizes the British monarch as its formal head of state, while an appointed Governor General serves as the Queen's representative in The Bahamas. A bicameral legislature enacts laws under the 1973 constitution.

The House of Assembly consists of 41 members, elected from individual constituencies for 5-year terms. As under the Westminster system, the government may dissolve the Parliament and call elections at any time. The House of Assembly performs all major legislative functions. The leader of the majority party serves as prime minister and head of government. The Cabinet consists of at least nine members, including the prime minister and ministers of executive departments. They answer politically to the House of Assembly.

The Senate consists of 16 members appointed by the Governor General, including nine on the advice of the prime minister, four on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition, and three on the advice of the prime minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

The Governor General appoints the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the advice of the prime minister and the Leader of the Opposition. The Governor General appoints the other justices with the advice of a judicial commission. The Privy Council of the United Kingdom serves as the highest appellate court.

Local government districts elect councils for town planning, business licenses, traffic issues and maintaining government buildings. In some large districts, lower level town councils also have minor responsibilities.

For decades, the white-dominated United Bahamian Party (UBP) ruled The Bahamas, then a dependency of the United Kingdom, while a group of influential white merchants, known as the 'Bay Street Boys,' dominated the local economy. In 1953, Bahamians dissatisfied with UBP rule formed the opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). Under the leadership of Lynden Pindling, the PLP won control of the government in 1967 and led The Bahamas to full independence in 1973.

A coalition of PLP dissidents and former UBP members formed the Free National Movement (FNM) in 1971. Former PLP cabinet minister and member of Parliament Hubert Ingraham became leader of the FNM in 1990, upon the death of Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield. Under the leadership of Ingraham, the FNM won control of the government from the PLP in the August 1992 general elections. The PLP regained power in 2002 under the leadership of Perry Christie, but the FNM, again led by Ingraham, returned to government by capturing 23 of the 41 seats in the House of Assembly during the May 2007 election. The next election must be held no later than May 2012.

Principal Government Officials
Governor General--Arthur Dion Hanna, Sr.
Prime Minister--Hubert Ingraham
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs--Brent Symonette
Ambassador to the United States and to the OAS--vacant (Charge d'Affaires, a.i.--Rhoda Mae Jackson)
Ambassador to the United Nations--Dr. Paulette Bethel
Consul General, Miami--Alma Adams
Consul General, New York--Eldred Bethel

The Bahamas maintains an embassy in the United States at 2220 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-319-2660) and Consulates General in New York at 231 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017 (tel: 212-421-6420), and in Miami at Suite 818, Ingraham Building, 25 SE Second Ave., Miami, FL 33131 (tel: 305-373-6295).


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Bahamian Dollar Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Bahamian Dollar Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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