Constitution of The Bahamas

Status: Monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II

Legislature: Parliament of The Bahamas

Independence: 10 July 1973

The Bahamas is a constitutional monarchy recognising Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. She is represented by a Governor-General chosen on the advice of the cabinet. The country is a parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature. The Senate has 16 members, nine appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, four on the advice of the opposition leader, and three after joint discussions. The House of Assembly (presently of 38 elected members, 41 before the 2012 elections, 40 before the 2007 elections and 49 before the 1997 elections) is directly elected on a district basis for a term not exceeding five years; elections are on the basis of universal adult suffrage.

A commission meets at intervals of not less than five years to review the constituency boundaries. The constitution allows for three distinct types of legislation: the ‘specially entrenched’ provisions relating to parliament itself and the judicial system require a three-quarters majority in both houses and a popular referendum; ‘entrenched’ provisions require a two-thirds majority in both houses; and other legislation a simple majority vote.

In January 2012, the government introduced changes in the Bahamas Parliamentary Elections Act that allowed limited overseas voting for nationals and permitted independent observers to observe the election process.