The government of Belize is a constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. Belize is a former British colony, formally known as British Honduras. The colony achieved self-governance in 1964 and gained the name Belize in 1973. However, it was not until 1981 that it gained full independence. A British garrison remained in Belize at the government's request. The Constitution used in Belize was adopted in 1981 as the nation's supreme law.
Executive Branch Of The Government Of Belize
Belize's head of state is recognized as Queen Elizabeth II. A Governor General represents the monarchy and is advised by the Prime Minister in conjunction with the cabinet. The Governor General receives the appointment from the Queen and serves at her pleasure. The Governor General chooses from among the representatives of Parliament the Prime Minister who chairs the largest party in the Assembly. The Prime Minister chooses the Cabinet members from the representatives in the biggest party who continue to also serve in their elected seats. Cabinet members can also be selected from the Senate. The cabinet is the primary policy-making institution in Belize.
Legislative Branch Of The Government Of Belize
Belize's National Assembly is made up of the House of Representatives as well as a Senate. 31 members sit in the House of Representatives after garnering the majority of the popular vote in their constituencies. In the 2015 election, the United Democratic Party garnered 19 seats, and the People's United Party got 12 seats and formed the opposition. The Senate has 13 seats. The Governor General chooses six senators as advised by the Prime Minister and three according to the Leader of Opposition's advice. Another four senators are recommended by various organizations. The 12 senators choose the President of the Senate, either from outside the institution or among themselves. The President is required to preside over the Senate and can only vote when a bill is being passed. If an appointed Senator is elected as President, both the powers of the President of Senate and the Senator are vested in him/her.
Judicial Branch Of The Government Of Belize
Belize's judicial structure features the Magistrates' Courts which decides on less serious cases and the Supreme Court in addition to the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is chaired by the Chief Justice who is currently Kenneth Benjamin. The Supreme Court operates all year, and it begins in Belize City before heading out to the districts. Special cases can be appealed to the Privy Council which sits in London. A special Family Court also operates in Belize City, and it gives audience to cases related to spousal abuse and domestic violence, and child abuse among others. A Quick Trial Court processes particular cases faster. In 2001, Belize was among the CARICOM members pushing for the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
The local government of Belize is made up of community, village, town, and city councils. City and town councils have a mayor and several councilors who serve for three-year terms. The mayor, in his capacity as the chief executive of the city or town (except in Belize), allocates portfolios to the councilors. Village councils comprise of a chairperson in addition to six councilors.