Republicanism in Barbados

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Republicanism in Barbados is a theoretical political concept.


In 1979, a commission of inquiry known as the Cox Commission on the Constitution was constituted and under the auspices of looking at the republic issue. The Cox Commission came to the conclusion that Barbadians preferred to maintain the constitutional monarchy. The proposal to move to a republican status was therefore not pursued.[1] The 1994 manifesto of the Barbados Labour Party dealt both with the republic issue, proposing a referendum. In line with this promise, on 29 October 1996 a Constitution Review Commission, Chaired of Sir Henry de Boulay Forde was appointed to review the Constitution of Barbados.[1]

The Commission elected the Hon. Oliver Jackman, a former diplomat and a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as its Vice Chairman. The Commission was mandated to:

1. “determine the necessity for retaining the Monarchical System of Government and make recommendations in respect of the Executive form of Government most suited to protect parliamentary democracy, the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens of Barbados and to achieve effective and efficient Government so as to position Barbados to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.
2. To advise and make recommendations concerning the appropriateness or otherwise of maintaining Barbados’ link with the Crown.
3. To advise and make recommendations concerning a structure for the Executive Authority of Barbados that is best suited to protect the Independence and Authority of Parliament and the fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens.”[1]

The Commission held public hearings in Barbados and overseas.[1] The Commission reported back on 15 December 1998, and submitted its report to His Excellency the Governor-General of Barbados.

The Commission recommended that Barbados adopt a Parliamentary republic system. In 1999 the Barbados Labour Party's Manifesto proposed that the findings of the Commission and its recommendation that Barbados become a republic would receive the early attention of the Government.[1]

A Referendum Bill was introduced in Parliament and had its first reading on 10 October 2000. With the dissolution of Parliament just prior to the elections in 2003, the Referendum Bill was not carried over.[1] A referendum on the issue was proposed again in 2008, but never was held.

Proposed referendum[edit]

A referendum on Barbados becoming a republic was planned to be held in Barbados by August 2008, near to the time of the parliamentary elections.[2] However, it was reported on December 2, 2007, that the vote was to be held at a later date instead.[3]


According to the Referendum Act 2005,[4] the question to be asked is:


The Government of Barbados announced its intention to hold a referendum on the republic issue in February 2005.[5] It introduced a Referendum Bill that month.[5] The Bill was passed into law in October 2005. The Act did not set a date for the referendum, but instead specified that the "Referendum Day" could be proclaimed by the Governor-General, being no more than 90 days and no less than 60 days from the date of proclamation.[4] The Act itself could not amend Barbados' constitution, because under section 49.1 a majority of two-thirds of Parliament is required to make any amendments.[6]

Mia Mottley, who was Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, said: "we feel that it is the right thing to do to have a Barbadian head of state. We accept that there was a concern that the Government alone should not make that decision in this day and age and we are therefore committed to expressing our views to the public and having them pass judgement on it."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Barbados Labour Party - news". 11 February 2005. 
  2. ^ Staff writer (26 November 2007). "Referendum on Republic to be bundled with election". Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2010. 
  3. ^ Gollop, Chris. "VOTE OFF". Nation Newspaper. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Referendum Bill". Parliament of Barbados. 2005. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  5. ^ a b Norman 'Gus' Thomas. "Barbados to vote on move to republic". Caribbean Net News. 
  6. ^ "Constitution of Barbados, Section 49 - Altering the Constitution". Government of Barbados. Retrieved 2009-01-29. 
  7. ^ S., D. (26 November 2007). "Still a voice". Nation Newspaper. Archived from the original on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2010.