Barbados is a stable parliamentary democracy
within the Commonwealth (Britain and its former
colonies). The British monarch is the head of state and
is represented on the island by a Governor General. The
government has real political power and both the
dominant political parties have said they want to make
Barbados a republic.
The government is made up of the prime minister and a
further five ministers. The government is responsible to
the Legislative Parliament, which was founded in 1639
and is thus one of the world's oldest.
Parliament consists of the House of
Representatives (House of Assembly) with 30
elected members and a Senate with 21
members. The Governor-General appoints the senators;
seven elect themselves while twelve are proposed by the
prime minister and two by the opposition leader. General
elections are held at the House of Representatives for a
maximum of five years. The voting age is 18 years.
Total population and chart of Barbados for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
Since the mid-1990s, a constitutional reform has been
prepared to make Barbados a republic. A referendum on
the constitutional changes would have been held, first
in 2005 and since 2008, but it has been postponed in the
future. Ahead of the 2013 election, the government
promised to prepare the country for a move to the
Republic of 2016, in connection with the 50th
anniversary of independence, but neither did it. The
plan is to set up a ceremonial presidential post to
replace the British monarch.
Administratively, Barbados is divided into 11
parishes and the capital Bridgetown.
Two parties completely dominate the political scene:
the Barbados Labor Party (Barbados
Labor Party, BLP) and the
Democratic Labor Party (Democratic Labor Party,
DLP). Both are middle-left parties and
the ideological difference is small. Sometimes BLP is
seen as a bit more entrepreneurial-friendly, while DLP
takes more care of “ordinary barbarians” needs. There
are also some small parties but since 1999 no party
besides the two big ones has had a seat in Parliament.
The judiciary is similar to the British. As in other
parts of the former British Caribbean, the Privy Council
in London has long been the supreme court for judicial
appeals. However, Barbados is one of the countries that
has chosen to have a joint regional court, the CCJ
(Caribbean Court of Justice) in Trinidad and Tobago,
take over as the highest court. CCJ was established in
April 2005 as a body within Caricom and the court also
decides on issues related to Caricom's common market
CSME (see also Foreign Policy and Defense).
The death penalty can be meted out, but no one has
been executed in the country since 1984. There is a
strong public opinion on the death penalty but pressure
to abolish the death penalty exists from both the CCJ
and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR),
which is an independent body within the OAS.