Bermuda's Government and Its History

Bermuda is a self-governing British overseas territory and has to this day the oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth outside the British Isles. The Queen is the authorized head of state and Her Majesty is responsible for appointing a Governor to represent her in Bermuda. The police force, internal security, external affairs as well as the defense are placed in the hands of the Governor.

Government History

Also known among the longstanding self-governed overseas British Territory, Bermuda is known to have a high level of internal sovereignty. The first parliamentary session was held in 1620 and this has made it the 3rd continual assembly worldwide. In 1609, Bermuda was accidentally colonized by the Virginia Company and as such, the first governmental system was created under the laws of the company. Later on though, in 1612, it deliberately colonized Bermuda again though it lost the Royal Charter in 1622 and the responsibility of administration was assumed by the crown. In 1615, it was passed to The Somers Isles Company which was comprised of the original shareholders and with Somers Isles considered the official name for the colony. It was under the Isles Company that the House of Assembly was formed and they carried on with the appointment of Governors toll 1684 when it was dissolved and once again, the Crown was mandated to meet the administration responsibilities. The political structure created by the company was left intact by the Crown. During this time, the Council president could act as a Governor in the event there was none at that given time.

Male landowners were the only people allowed to vote and with the increase of non-white land owners there was a shift in this law. It was established that a man could only vote on the basis of the property they owned and as such, one had to prove that they had sufficient and valuable land.

Bermuda parliament

Senate and House of Assembly

In essence the Bermuda government can be likened to that in the UK and it is divided into 2 legislative chambers which include the Senate and House of Assembly.

Every five years, the House of Assembly hold elections and it is made up of at least 36 members. These are supposed to be elected during general elections and they can only claim the office if this is done by eligible voters. The House of Assembly elects a speaker as well as a deputy speaker and they are serving for a maximum 5 years unless dissolved. The premier is chosen on the basis of the leader of the party that acquires the most seats and they are requested by the Governor to create a cabinet which is also known as government. The opposition and shadow cabinet is created by the party that has the highest minority number.

The Senate is compromised of eleven members and they have to be appointed in accordance to the law where the first 5 are appointed by the Premier, the next three by the leader of the opposing party and the last three are appointed by independents. In every 7 years, if the need arises, a boundary commission is appointed to re-examine and revise the boundaries that outline the constituencies. The president and the vice president are supposed to be appointed by the complete senate and they have to be independent senators. For legislation to pass as law, it must be the House of Assembly must pass it and the Governor as well as the Senate must approve it.

The Westminster Model is what is used by the government to govern the parliamentary democracy and this simply refers to a system that relies on existing political parties laying policies before proceeding to electorate approval. As stated earlier, the party that gets the most votes is declared the winner and is responsible for forming the government. Also, the minority party gets to be the official opposition and they form the shadow cabinet.

The Progressive Labour Party also known as PLP and the United Bermuda Party also known as UBP are the major parties in Bermuda. The framework used to conduct the politics is different in the sense that they use parliamentary independent reliance in which case, the Premier is considered the government head.

Internal Self-government

The island, in 1968 was given the responsibility of for maintaining internal self government but the British Government maintained the responsibility of seeing to matter of security defense and external affairs. In case of any international negotiations that might affect the territory, then the Bermudian Government must be consulted. The parliament as well as the government is also mandated to handle any legislative power and the Judiciary is known to operate on an independent level. The UK is responsible for handling the military defense and while this is the case, Bermuda still has the right to maintain the military force.

The structurally government was set in 1968 and it is governed by the constitution. In it, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and she is represented by the Governor whom she is responsible for appointing.

As such, the Governor, Cabinet, Deputy Governor and the Legislature are the major constitutes of the Bermuda government. The major functions carried out by the Legislature include the following.

It is through carrying out the duties stated above that the Legislature is able to deliver actual facts to the electorate.

The Constitution Governing Bermuda

The constitution governing Bermuda was established in 1968. Just like the United States constitution, it ensures that all individuals get to enjoy the basic human rights that are entitled to anyone residing in a democratic state. As such, it offers freedom of speech, movement, religion, thought, press, fair trial and arbitrary arrest. Considering the fact that the country is still under the British territory, it is considered a rather advanced and dependable constitution that addresses the needs of all those involved.

The Bermudian constitution which was first introduced in 1968 and amended 5 times in the years 1973, 1979, 1989, 2001 and later on in 2003 contains the following clauses.

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