Republicanism in Barbados is a political proposal for Barbados to transition from a parliamentary constitutional monarchy under a hereditary monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) to a republic. A Barbadian would be elected or appointed as head of state according to the 2020 plan.[1]

History

In 1979, a commission of inquiry known as the Cox Commission on the Constitution was constituted and charged with studying the feasibility of introducing a republican system. 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.[2] The 1994 manifesto of the Barbados Labour Party dealt with the republic issue, proposing a referendum. In line with this promise, on 29 October 1996 a Constitution Review Commission, chaired by Henry de Boulay Forde, was appointed to review the Constitution of Barbados.[2]

The Commission elected 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.”[2]

The Commission held public hearings in Barbados and overseas.[2] The Commission reported back on 15 December 1998, and submitted its report to 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.[2]

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.[2]

2008 proposed referendum

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.[3] However, it was reported on December 2, 2007, that the vote was to be held at a later date instead.[4]

Question

According to the Referendum Act 2005,[5] the question to be asked is:

Do you agree with the recommendation of the Constitution Review Commission that Barbados should become a Parliamentary republic with the head of State of Barbados being a President who is a citizen of Barbados?

Debate

The Government of Barbados announced its intention to hold a referendum on the republic issue in February 2005.[6] It introduced a Referendum Bill that month.[6] 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.[5] 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.[7]

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."[8]

2015 proposal

On 22 March 2015, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced that Barbados will move towards a republican form of government "in the very near future". Stuart told a meeting of his Democratic Labour Party: "We cannot pat ourselves on the shoulder at having gone into independence; having de-colonised our politics; we cannot pat ourselves on the shoulders at having decolonized our jurisprudence by delinking from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and explain to anybody why we continue to have a monarchical system. Therefore, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow decolonized the politics; Owen Arthur decolonized the jurisprudence and Freundel Stuart is going to complete the process."[9]

The general secretary of the Democratic Labour Party, George Pilgrim, confirmed the move and said that it is expected to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Barbadian independence in 2016. According to Pilgrim, the change will be implemented through a bill that will be presented to the Parliament of Barbados.[10]

According to the country's Constitution, a two-thirds majority in Parliament is needed to authorize the change. The Democratic Labour Party has a two-thirds majority in the Senate of Barbados but not in the House of Assembly where it would need the support of the opposition Barbados Labour Party to approve the transition.[11]

2020 proposal

In September 2020, the Barbados Labour Party government of Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced in its Throne Speech that Barbados would become a republic by November 2021.[12][13] The Barbados Labour Party holds a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Barbadian parliament (including all but one lower house seat), enough to approve a constitutional amendment.[14][15]

If the plan succeeds, Barbados would cease to be a Commonwealth realm, but would maintain membership in the Commonwealth of Nations.[16][17] One news report stated that Guyana, as well as Trinidad and Tobago, already had such a relationship with the UK: a "loose association of former British colonies and current dependencies".[18]

"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind. Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state," according to a speech by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in September 2020. Her predecessor as PM, Freundel Stuart, had also espoused moving to a republican system.[19]

The former Barbadian High Commissioner to the UK, Guy Hewitt, said in March 2021 interviews that the Windrush Scandal in 1988 had left Barbadians with little confidence in the UK. (Some people born as British subjects were threatened with deportation and at least 83 were wrongly deported from the UK.)[20] In Hewitt's view, many believe that the "monarchy symbolizes part of that historic oppression" and the country was due for "a native born citizen as head of state".[21] 

Whether the move to becoming a republic can be achieved during 2021 is "not clear", according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After a request from the CBC in March 2021, the government did not provide a timeline for the process.[22]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Meghan and Harry racism row 'may deepen schisms in Commonwealth'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Barbados Labour Party - news". 11 February 2005.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Gollop, Chris. "VOTE OFF". Nation Newspaper. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Referendum Bill" (PDF). Parliament of Barbados. 2005. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
  6. ^ a b Norman 'Gus' Thomas. "Barbados to vote on move to republic". Caribbean Net News. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28.
  7. ^ "Constitution of Barbados, Section 49 - Altering the Constitution". Government of Barbados. Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  8. ^ S., D. (26 November 2007). "Still a voice". Nation Newspaper. Archived from the original on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  9. ^ "PM says Barbados moving towards Republic". Jamaica Observer. 23 March 2015. Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Barbados plans to replace Queen with ceremonial president". The Guardian. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth II as titular head of state". Globe and Mail. Associated Press. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and declare republic". The Independent. 16 September 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Barbados revives plan to remove Queen as head of state and become a republic". The Guardian. 15 September 2020. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  14. ^ "EDITORIAL: THE NEED FOR REFORM". The Barbados Advocate. 20 August 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  15. ^ Taylor, Rebecca (16 September 2020). "Queen responds after Barbados removes her as head of state - 'it's a matter for the people'". Yahoo News UK. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  16. ^ Team, Caribbean Lifestyle Editorial (2020-09-15). "Barbados to become an Independent Republic in 2021". Caribbean Culture and Lifestyle. Retrieved 2020-09-15.
  17. ^ Speare-Cole, Rebecca (2020-09-16). "Barbados to remove Queen as head of state by November 2021". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  18. ^ "Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  19. ^ "Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Windrush: 11 people wrongly deported from UK have died – Javid". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  21. ^ "Meghan and Harry racism row 'may deepen schisms in Commonwealth'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  22. ^ "Leave the monarchy? In Barbados, that's just the first step on a long path to healing". Retrieved 18 March 2021.