The Government of Bermuda consists of a Governor, a Deputy Governor, a Cabinet, and a Legislature based on two legislative chambers – a Senate and a House of Assembly.
Main Functions of the Legislature
The main functions of the Legislature are:
a. To pass laws.
b. To provide, by taxation, the means of carrying on the work of Government.
c. To scrutinize Government policy and administration, particularly proposals for expenditure.
In discharging these functions, the Legislature helps to bring the relevant facts and issues before the electorate.
The Constitution of Bermuda, introduced in June 1968 and amended in 1973, 1979, 1989, 2001 and 2003 contains provisions relating to:
• the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual;
• the powers and duties of the Governor; and
• the composition, powers and procedure of:-
o the Legislature,
o the Cabinet,
o the Judiciary, and
o the Public Service.
The House of Assembly is comprised of 36 members elected by universal adult suffrage. It elects a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker and sits for a term of five years, unless dissolved earlier. Bermuda is divided into 36 constituencies, each represented by one member in the House. Under the Constitution, a Boundaries Commission is appointed every seven years to examine and, if necessary, to revise the boundaries of the constituencies.
The Senate is comprised of 11 members appointed by His Excellency the Governor. Five members of Senate are appointed on the recommendation of the Premier and represent the governing party. Three members are appointed on the recommendation of the Leader of the Opposition and represent the official opposition party. And the three remaining Senators are appointed as Independents. A President and a Vice-President are elected by the full Senate from among the Independent Senators.
Bermuda’s system of Government is based on the “Westminster Model” of parliamentary democracy. It is a system that relies heavily upon the existence of organized political parties, each laying policies before the electorate for approval. The party who wins the most seats at a general election, or who has the support of a majority of members in the House of Assembly, forms the Government. In accordance with the Bermuda Constitution, the leader of the majority party is asked by the Governor to form a Government (i.e. a Cabinet). The largest minority party becomes the official opposition with its own leader and “Shadow Cabinet”.
The Cabinet is responsible to the Legislature.