Politics of Bermuda

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Politics and government of

Bermuda is a parliamentary representative democratic dependency. The Premier is the head of government, and there is a multi-party system.

Bermuda is the oldest self-governing British Overseas Territory and has a great degree of internal autonomy. Its parliament held its first session in 1620, making it the third-oldest continuous parliament in the World. The original system of government was created under the Virginia Company, which colonised Bermuda, accidentally in 1609, and deliberately from 1612. The Virginia Company lost its Royal Charter for North America ("Virginia") in 1622, and the Crown assumed responsibility for the administration of the continental colony. Bermuda, however, passed in 1615 to a new company, The Somers Isles Company (The Somers Isles being the other official name of the colony), formed by the same shareholders. The House of Assembly was created under that company, which continued to appoint Governors until it was dissolved in 1684, with the Crown assuming responsibility for the Colony's administration. The Crown left in place the political system created under the Company. The Colonial Parliament originally consisted only of the lower house. The Governor's Council, an appointed body, served in the roles of an upper house and a cabinet. The President of The Council could find himself temporarily acting as Governor when no Governor was present.

Voting was originally restricted to male landowners. When the numbers of non-white landowners began to increase, a minimum value was established for the properties which entitled their owners to vote. In 1960, this was £60. A man could vote in each parish in which he owned sufficiently valuable land - giving the richest whites as many as nine votes each if they so desired.[1]

Its 1968 Constitution provided the island with formal responsibility for internal self-government, while the British Government retained responsibility for external affairs, defence, and security. The Bermudian Government is always consulted on any international negotiations affecting the territory. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament. The party system is dominated by the Progressive Labour Party and the United Bermuda Party.

The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Military defence is officially the responsibility of the United Kingdom, but Bermuda maintains its own military force.

Bermuda participates, through British delegations, in the UN and some of its specialized and related agencies. The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes Bermuda on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

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