What Type Of Government Does Barbados Have?

Parliament buildings in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Parliament buildings in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Government Of Barbados

The government of Barbados works under a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system. As a Commonwealth Nation, Barbados accepts the monarch of Great Britain as the official hereditary Head of State of the country. The Constitution of Barbados sets forth basic freedoms for the citizens of this country and establishes 3 branches of government to ensure a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances. These 3 branches are the: executive, legislative, and judicial. This article takes a closer look at each one.

Executive Branch Of The Government Of Barbados

The executive branch of government is made up of the British monarch, Governor-General, Prime Minister (Head of Government), and Cabinet of Ministers. While the monarch is recognized as the Head of State, the duties are actually given to the Governor-General. The person in this position is appointed by the monarch to represent the interests of the British Crown in Barbados. The Governor-General is charged with appointing the Prime Minister and the 21 members of the Senate: 12 recommended by the Prime Minister, 2 recommended by the Leader of the Opposition, and 7 chosen independently.

The Cabinet of Ministers is chosen by the Prime Minister to manage the various departments and ministries that make up the government. This executive body is responsible for carrying out the regulations and legislation as determined by the legislative branch.

Legislative Branch Of The Government Of Barbados

The legislative branch of Barbados consists of a bicameral Parliament. This body is divided into two departments: the House of Assembly and the Senate.

The House of Assembly has 30 members, who are elected by the general public to serve a 5-year term. These members meet between 40 and 45 days a year and each one represents a single constituency. This department of Parliament is responsible for introducing bills to the Senate.

The Senate consists of only 21 seats, which are appointed by the Governor-General. The Senators review and approve bills submitted by the House of Assembly and also work to create new legislation. The Senate may introduce bills concerning any topic except those that are budget or spending related. Of the 7 members chosen directly by the Governor-General, the majority are selected from labor unions, civil society associations, and other public organizations. Senators serve for a term of 5 years and convene between 20 and 25 days every year.

Judicial Branch Of The Government Of Barbados

The judicial branch of Barbados works independently of the legislative and executive branches. The legal system of this country is based on common law and takes English and British Commonwealth case precedents into consideration when deciding on certain matters. The legal system here is divided into two types of courts: Magistrates’ Court and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is further organized into the High Court and the Court of Appeals. Cases in these Supreme Courts are overseen by a panel of 4 judges with the Chief Justice serving on both. Criminal cases begin in Magistrates’ Court and decisions here may be appealed to the Court of Appeals. The final court of appeals for Barbados is the Caribbean Court of Justice. Additionally, the government of Barbados accepts the decisions on cases concerning humans rights made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It is one of only a few countries in the Americas to do so.


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