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The island of Barbados, a nation of the Lesser Antilles, sits in the western area of the Atlantic Ocean and is 13˚N of the equator. The political history that surrounds Barbados is of great significance and interest as it is very connected to Britain.

The gradual introduction of social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s led to complete independence from the UK in 1966. In the 1990s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance.

Barbados' Political Framework

Barbados broke away from Britain and gained independence on November 30th, 1966. The country formally adopted the Westminster parliamentary system of government with a governor general representing the British monarch and the Queen as Head of State. The Queen is represented by a Governor General who acts on her behalf. The Governor General is then advised by the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

Elected Officials in Barbados Politics

The House of Assembly assists in the running of the government by advising the Prime Minister. The government of Barbados is run based on the majority government. This means that whatever political party is in office, has the right to complete power in terms of passing laws of the land. The Prime Minister is the true leader of government in Barbados but that does not mean that the Governor General does not have any influence. The Prime Minister can only be removed prematurely if there is a vote of no-confidence or removal from the Governor General himself.

The Barbados senate is made up of a twenty-eight (28) member House of Assembly and is elected by majority vote every five (5) years. The Governor General selects twelve (12) Senators on advice of the Prime Minister, two (2) on advice of the leading opposition party and the final seven (7) Senators are appointed by the Governor General personally. The Senate and the House of Assembly make up the legislative assembly and serve both the judiciary and the executive. The judiciary in Barbados is fairly common. It is comprised of several magistrate courts and a Supreme Court which also has a court of appeal.

The Government of Barbados has a powerful and uninterrupted impact on the economy through its control of the public sector, its tax policy and its stimulation of foreign investment within critical sectors. The government frequently meets with representatives from the private sector and trade unions and a series of tripartite protocols covering wages, prices and working conditions in the island.


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