Bahamian Politics and Government
olitics and Government
Bahamian National Coat of ArmsThe Bahamian National Coat of Arms (right) were officially adopted on July 12, 1971. The arms show the Santa Maria, the flagship of Columbus, who discovered the islands. The sun symbolizes the sunny climate. On the shield is placed a shell, which symbolizes the dependency of the islands on the sea. The supporters are a flamingo (the national bird) and a marlin.
The symbolism of the Bahamian Flag is as follows: Black, a strong colour, represents the vigour and force of a united people, the triangle pointing towards the body of the flagrepresents the enterprise and determination of the Bahamian people to develop and possess the rich resources of land and sea symbolized by gold and aquamarine respectively.
The Bahamian National Anthem was written by Timothy Gibson in 1972 and adopted in 1973.
The Bahamian National Motto is “Forward, Upward, Onward Together”
An important turning point in the history of The Islands Of The Bahamas took place in 1967. The movement to give equal rights, including the right to vote, was led by twelve men. These men made up the First Bahamas Cabinet under Majority Rule. They are:
Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, Milo Butler, Arthur Hanna, Clarence Bain, Jeffrey Thompson, Carleton Francis, Randol Fawkes, Warren Lavarity, Curtis McMillan, Clement Maynard and Lynden Pindling.
The Islands Of The Bahamas gained independence from Great Britain on July 10, 1973, which is celebrated as Bahamian Independence Day. As a member of the British Commonwealth, The Islands Of The Bahamas has a symbolic link to Great Britain, with an appointed Governor-General representing the Queen of England. However, the current Prime Minister is the Right Honourable Hubert Alexander Ingraham, who is an elected official, and is the actual head of the government.
The Constitution, which has been in effect since 1973, declares that The Islands Of The Bahamas is a sovereign democratic state. It guarantees fundamental human rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly, as well as protecting the privacy of the home.
The Prime Minister and his Cabinet make up the Executive Branch of government. The Legislative Branch includes the Senate, which is appointed, and the House of Assembly, which is elected. The Judiciary is comprised of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Magistrates Courts.
In 1997, local government was introduced into The Islands Of The Bahamas with locally elected officials being charged with certain local responsibilities.
General elections are held every five years but the ruling party can call an election at any time.
Changing of the Guards
To see a prime example of British influence on Bahamian government, plan to see the Changing of the Guards ceremony. There is much pomp and ceremony and the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band also performs. The ceremony occurs at Government House (the office and residence of the Governor-General) in Nassau every two weeks.