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The Bahamas is a constitutional monarchy, with its governmental structure based on the Westminster model and comprised of three branches: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judicature. The current Monarch is Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

The Executive
Executive authority is vested in the Monarch, represented by the Governor-General, but is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister as Head of Government. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor-General and is the leader of the Party that enjoys the greatest support in Parliament. Prime Ministers are invited by the Sovereign to form a Government from Members of Parliament.  Since Independence, Bahamian politics have been largely dominated by two parties: the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM). The current Government of The Bahamas was formed by the Right Honourable Perry G. Christie after his PLP defeated the incumbent FNM, led by the Right Honourable Hubert A. Ingraham, by securing 29 of 38 seats in the House of Assembly at elections held on 7 May 2012.

The Legislature

The Legislature is comprised of the Monarch, represented by the Governor-General and the bi-cameral Parliament. The first meeting of Parliament (General Assembly) took place on 29th September 1729, and was made up of twenty-four members representing the Islands of New Providence, Eleuthera and Harbour Island.

The Senate (Upper House) consists of 16 members known as “Senators”, who are appointed by the Governor-General, with nine Senators appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, four on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and three appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister after consulting the Leader of the Opposition.

The House of Assembly (Lower House) consist of 38 members, but its numbers may be specified by an Order made by the Governor-General in accordance with the provisions of Article 70 of The Bahamas Constitution.

The members of the House are known as “Members of Parliament” and are elected to single-member districts by Bahamian voters to serve a five year term.

The Judicature

The Judicature operates independently of the Executive and Legislative branches, with jurisprudence based in English Common Law. The highest Court in The Bahamas is the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, which normally sits in the United Kingdom, and may hear cases from lower Courts in The Bahamas.

The Judicature is also composed of:  the Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction in criminal, constitutional and civil matters,  which includes appeals from the Industrial Relations Tribunal, matters relating to the Constitution, the Court of Appeal Act and other statutes; the Supreme Court, which has unlimited jurisdiction in general, civil and criminal matters; the Magistrate’s Courts, which include one Drug Court, one Firearms Court, one Coroner's Court, one night civil court and two night traffic courts, and exercise summary jurisdiction in criminal matters and in civil matters involving amounts not exceeding BS$5,000.00; and Family Island Administrators, who also sit as magistrates and exercise summary jurisdiction in criminal matters of a less serious nature and in civil matters involving amounts not exceeding BS$400.00.