The Bahamas Overview: Public Institutions
Courtesy of U.S. Dept. of State
The Bahamas is a constitutional, parliamentary democracy. As a fully independent member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the nominal Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II, represented in The Bahamas by an appointed Governor General. The Head of Government is the Prime Minister. The 1973 Bahamian Constitution was enacted by a Parliament composed of the Senate and the House of Assembly.
The House of Assembly (Lower House) consists of 40 members, elected by the constituency every 5 years on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The Senate (Upper House) consists of 16 members, nine of whom are appointed 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 in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. The Parliament performs all major legislative functions. The leader of the majority party serves as Prime Minister. The Cabinet, which answers to the House of Assembly, consists of the Prime Minister, a Deputy Prime Minister, an Attorney General, and other Ministers of executive departments.
The judiciary consists of a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeals, and various Magistrates' Courts, with the right to appeal to Her Majesty's Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
In January 1993, the government instituted a form of local government for the Family Islands (Bahamian islands beyond New Providence) by appointing individuals to local licensing boards. Commissioners, who formerly served as administrators for the Family Islands, now serve as secretaries to these boards in addition to their duties as local magistrates.
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