Governor of Bermuda
The Governor of Bermuda is the representative of the British monarch in the British overseas territory of Bermuda. The Governor is appointed by the monarch on the advice of the British government; the role of the Governor is to act as the de facto head of state, he or she is responsible for appointing the Premier and the 11 members of the Senate. The Governor is Commander-in-chief of the Royal Bermuda Regiment; the current Governor is John Rankin. The Governor has his own flag in Bermuda, a Union Flag with the territory's coat of arms superimposed. Bermuda's settlement began in 1609, with the wrecking of the flagship of the Virginia Company, the Sea Venture. Although most of the passengers and crew completed their voyage to Virginia, the archipelago was permanently settled from that point, left in the hands of the Virginia Company; the first intentional settlers arrived under the colony's first Governor, Richard Moore. A carpenter by trade, Moore ensured the long-term survival of the colony by concentrating on building fortifications, including the first stone forts in the English New World, developing St. George's Town.
Bermuda was the second permanent English colony established. Bermuda was administered under Royal charters by the Virginia Company, its successor, the Somers Isles Company, which appointed the colony's governors until the Crown revoked the charter and took over administration in 1684; the Crown maintained the system of government established under the company. The Privy Council, made up of the Chief Justice, certain senior civil servants, appointees, was known as the Governor's Council and the Legislative Council; the last company-appointed Governor was reappointed by the Crown. In 1707 the British State was created by the union of the Kingdom of England with the Kingdom of Scotland, Bermuda thereby became a British colony. Since the 1783 independence of Virginia, it has been Britain's oldest colony. Following US independence, Bermuda became an important Royal Navy base, with a large military garrison to guard it; as such, the policy of the government until the closure of the Royal Naval dockyard in 1953 had been to appoint retiring Generals or Admirals as Bermuda's Governor and Commander-in-Chief.
On the rare occasions when a civilian was appointed to the role, it was only as Governor – the role of Commander-in-Chief being filled by a serving General or Admiral in Bermuda or Newfoundland. Since the 1950s, those appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief have tended to be prominent career-politicians at the ends of their political lives. Prior to the creation of the lower house of the Parliament of Bermuda, the House of Assembly, in 1620, the Governors ruled supreme, were draconian. Governor Daniel Tucker of Virginia, who arrived in 1616, was notorious for his harshness, having many islanders hanged, maimed, or whipped on the slightest provocation. One Bermudian, John Wood, was hanged for airing his views on the Governor in church. Governor Tucker's personal boat was stolen by five islanders, one named Saunders, who left a note saying they were on their way to England, or Davy Jones' Locker, either place being preferable to Bermuda under Tucker's rule. On reaching England, they complained about the harshness of Tucker's rule, though their complaints fell on deaf ears.
Governor Tucker reportedly, used his oversight of the surveying of Bermuda to enrich himself and future generations of Bermudian Tuckers with prime real estate when he appropriated the overplus land left after Richard Norwood's 1616 survey of the colony. Much of this land, forming an estate known as The Grove, would still be in the hands of his relatives during the American War of Independence. For the remainder of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the real political power in Bermuda lay in the elected parliament and the appointed Council, both dominated by members of Bermuda's wealthy commercial class. By the mid-Seventeenth Century, the Somers Isles Company had ceased sending Governors from overseas, instead appointed Bermudians such as William Sayle from this same local elite. Governors who were too high-handed or injudicious in the exercise of their office fell foul of the local political institutions. Governor Isaac Richier, who arrived in 1691 made himself unpopular with his carousing and criminal behaviour.
Bermudian complaints saw him placed in jail, replaced by Governor Goddard. When Goddard proved worse than Richier, attorney general Samuel Trott had him jailed alongside Richier; the two governors were to be tried before a pair of prominent Bermudians, John Trimmingham and William Butterfield. After Trott called the amateur judges bush lawyers, however, he found himself in St. George's jail alongside the governors. After they confided in him their plan for escape, Trott informed the judges. Richier and Goddard were sent back to England for trial. At the written request of George Washington, during the course of the American War of Independence, 100 barrels of gunpowder were stolen from a magazine in St. George's and provided to the American rebels. No one was prosecuted in relation to this act of treason; the theft had been the result of a conspiracy involving powerful Bermudians, who were motivated as much by Bermuda's desperate plight, denied her primary trading partner and source of food, as by any favourable sentiments they may have had in regard to either
Politics of Bermuda
Bermuda is a parliamentary representative democratic dependency. The premier is the head of government, 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, deliberately from 1612; the Virginia Company lost its Royal Charter for North America in 1622, the Crown assumed responsibility for the administration of the continental colony. Bermuda, passed in 1615 to a new company, The Somers Isles Company, 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 consisted only of the lower house. The Privy Council, an appointed body, served in the roles of a cabinet; the President of The Council could find himself temporarily acting as governor when no governor was present. Voting was 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. Since 1968 Bermuda has had a constitution. Queen Elizabeth II is represented in Bermuda by a governor, whom she appoints. Internally, Bermuda has a parliamentary system of government; the governor has special responsibilities in four areas: external affairs, internal security, the police. The constitution provided the island with formal responsibility for internal self-government, while the British Government retained responsibility for external affairs and security.
The Bermudian Government is always consulted on any international negotiations affecting the territory. Legislative power is vested in the Parliament; the party system is dominated by the Progressive Labour Party and the One Bermuda Alliance, while prior to 1998 it had been dominated by the United Bermuda Party. The judiciary is independent of the legislature. Military defence is 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. The governor is appointed by the monarch; the governor invites the leader of largest party in Parliament to form a government as premier. The premier is head of leader of the majority party in the elected House of Assembly; the Cabinet is composed of 14 members selected by the premier from among members of the bicameral parliament consisting of the nominated Senate and the House of Assembly.
The governor appoints a number of senior government positions, including the puisne judges, police commissioner, the auditor general and the parliamentary registrar. The Parliament has two chambers: the House of the Senate; the House of Assembly was composed of 40 members from 20 electoral districts for a term not to exceed 5 years. As the districts, based on the old parish boundaries, contained differing numbers of voters, that body was replaced in 2002 with a 36-member House elected from single-seat electoral districts of equal population for a five-year term; the Senate, called the Legislative Council until 1980, is the revising chamber and serves concurrently with the House of Assembly. There are 11 senators: five appointed by the governor in consultation with the premier; the latest election results are as follows: The Magistrates' Court is a creature of statute. Its jurisdiction includes: adjudicating on small claims in civil matters, dealing with a number of regulatory applications, trial of summary criminal offences and serving as examining justices on indictable matters.
The Supreme Court has inherent original jurisdiction for most civil matters, with concurrent jurisdiction in common law and equity. The Supreme Court deals with trials on indictment; the Supreme Court can judicially review government action in accordance with the principles of Administrative Law and entertain petitions that laws or public acts are contrary to the Constitution of Bermuda. It has appellate jurisdiction on matters from the Magistrates' Court; the Court of Appeal has appellate jurisdiction on matters from the Supreme Court. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the final court on all matters from Bermuda. Bermuda has the town of St. George. There are nine traditional parishes, but these don't have any administrative or legal role; when Bermuda was first colonised, the territory was divided between eight primary landowners in equal allotments, public land.
Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is 1,070 km east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; the capital city is Hamilton. Bermuda is self-governing, with its own constitution and its own government, which enacts local laws, while the United Kingdom retains responsibility for defence and foreign relations; as of July 2018, its population is the highest of the British overseas territories. Bermuda's two largest economic sectors are offshore insurance and reinsurance, tourism. Bermuda had one of the world's highest GDP per capita for most of the 20th century; the islands have a subtropical climate and lies in the hurricane belt and thus is prone to related severe weather. The first European known to have reached Bermuda was the Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermúdez in 1505, after whom the islands are named, he claimed the islands for the Spanish Empire. Unusually, Bermuda had no indigenous population at the time of its discovery, nor at the time of the initial British settlement a century later.
Bermúdez never landed on the islands, but made two visits to the archipelago, of which he created a recognisable map. Shipwrecked Portuguese mariners are now thought to have been responsible for the 1543 inscription on Portuguese Rock. Subsequent Spanish or other European parties are believed to have released pigs there, which had become feral and abundant on the island by the time European settlement began. In 1609, the English Virginia Company permanently settled Bermuda in the aftermath of a hurricane, when the crew and passengers of the Sea Venture steered the ship onto the surrounding reef to prevent its sinking landed ashore; the island was administered as an extension of Virginia by the Company until 1614. Its spin-off, the Somers Isles Company, took over in 1615 and managed the colony until 1684. At that time, the company's charter was revoked, the English Crown took over administration; the islands became a British colony following the 1707 unification of the parliaments of Scotland and England, which created the Kingdom of Great Britain.
After 1949, when Newfoundland became part of Canada, Bermuda became the oldest remaining British overseas territory. After the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, Bermuda became the most populous remaining dependent territory, its first capital, St. George's, was established in 1612. Bermuda was discovered in 1505 by Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez, it is mentioned in Legatio Babylonica, published in 1511 by historian Pedro Mártir de Anglería, was included on Spanish charts of that year. Both Spanish and Portuguese ships used the islands as a replenishment spot to take on fresh meat and water. Legends arose of spirits and devils, now thought to have stemmed from the calls of raucous birds and the loud noise heard at night from wild hogs. Combined with the frequent storm-wracked conditions and the dangerous reefs, the archipelago became known as the Isle of Devils. Neither Spain nor Portugal attempted to settle it. For the next century, the island is believed to have been visited but not settled.
After the failure of the first two English colonies in Virginia, a more determined effort was initiated by King James I of England, who granted a Royal Charter to the Virginia Company. It established a colony at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Two years a flotilla of seven ships left England under the Company's Admiral, Sir George Somers, the new Governor of Jamestown, Sir Thomas Gates, with several hundred settlers and supplies to relieve the colony of Jamestown. Somers had previous experience sailing with both Sir Francis Sir Walter Raleigh; the flotilla was broken up by a storm. As the flagship, Sea Venture, was taking on water, Somers drove it onto Bermuda's reef and gained the shores safely with smaller boats – all 150 passengers and a dog survived, they stayed ten months, building two small ships to sail to Jamestown. The group of islands were claimed for the English Crown, the charter of the Virginia Company was extended to include them. In 1610, all but three of the survivors of Sea Venture sailed on to Jamestown.
Among them was John Rolfe, whose wife and child died and were buried in Bermuda. In Jamestown he married Pocahontas, a daughter of the powerful Powhatan, leader of a large confederation of about 30 Algonquian-speaking tribes in coastal Virginia. In 1612, the English began intentional settlement of Bermuda with the arrival of the ship Plough. St. George's was designated as Bermuda's first capital, it is the oldest continually inhabited English town in the New World. In 1615, the colony was passed to a new company, the Somers Isles Company, named after the admiral who saved his passengers from Sea Venture. Many Virginian place names refer to the archipelago, such as Bermuda City, Bermuda Hundred; the first English coins to circulate in North America were struck in Bermuda. The archipelago's limited land area and resources led to the creation of what may be the earliest conservation laws of the New World. In 1616 and 1620 acts were passed banning the hunting of young tortoises. In 1
2017 Bermudian general election
General elections were held in Bermuda on 18 July 2017 to elect all 36 members to the House of Assembly. The result was a victory for the opposition Progressive Labour Party. Incumbent Premier Michael Dunkley subsequently resigned as leader of the One Bermuda Alliance. Bob Richards, a senior minister and deputy premier in Dunkley's government unexpectedly lost his Devonshire East seat. Under section 49 of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968, the Parliament of Bermuda must be dissolved by the Governor five years after its first meeting following the previous elections. Under section 51 of the Constitution, a general election must be held no than three months after a dissolution; as the first meeting of the parliament elected in December 2012 took place on 8 February 2013, meaning parliament would have needed to be dissolved before midnight on 7 February 2018 for elections to take place before 7 May 2018. However, after the ruling One Bermuda Alliance lost its majority in the House of Assembly when two of its MPs left to sit as independents, the opposition Progressive Labour Party proposed a vote of no-confidence, scheduled for 9 June 2017.
Dunkley pre-empted the vote on 8 June 2017 by asking the Governor to dissolve the House and call elections for 18 July 2017. The PLP was considered to have run on a populist platform, highlighting peoples' disenchantment with the political system; the campaign had been compared to the UK Independence Donald Trump's electoral campaigns. The party's campaign slogan was "Let's Put Bermudians First". In contrast, the OBA had campaigned on its economic record in government, using the slogan "Forward Together, Not Back"; the taxpayer-funded Parliamentary Registry, Bermuda's election management body, assisted the PLP, supplying the party — but not their opponents — with contact information for all registered voters to aid in their campaigning. According to Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge shortly after the election, there is no law prohibiting this release and that such an action would be at the discretion of the Registrar; the Registry ceased assisting the PLP four days prior to the election, when the OBA became aware and made a complaint.
One year after the election, the OBA issued a press release criticising the refusal of the Registry to release a report on the incident, to which the Registry responded by claiming that the Governor of Bermuda had settled the matter in a letter and declaring that it would refuse any further comment until unspecified "inaccuracies" made by the OBA in June, 2018, in connection to the issue were corrected
House of Assembly of Bermuda
The House of Assembly is the lower house of the Parliament of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. The house has 36 Members of Parliament, elected for a term of five years in single seat constituencies using first-past-the-post voting. Bermuda now has universal voting with a voting age of 18 years. Voting is non-compulsory; the presiding officer of the House is called the Speaker. Under section 49 of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968, the Parliament of Bermuda must be dissolved by the Governor five years after its first meeting following the previous elections. Under section 51 of the Constitution, a general election must be held no than three months after a dissolution; the House can force the resignation of the government by passing a vote of no-confidence in the government. The House of Assembly was the only house of Bermuda's Parliament, held its first session in 1620, it first met in Saint Peter's Church, in the original colonial capital, Saint George's, until its own building, the State House, was completed in 1620.
It met in the State House until the capital was moved to Hamilton in 1815, where it met at the old town hall until relocating to its current home, the Sessions House, in 1826. The House of Assembly was created at a time when Bermuda, or The Somers Isles, was administered by the Somers Isles Company, an offshoot of the Virginia Company; the House of Burgesses had been created in Virginia in 1619. The House of Assembly was overseen by a Governor appointed by the Company, for much of the colony's history, the real political power lay with the appointed Council of Bermuda, composed of members of Bermuda's wealthy merchant class. During periods when the colony was without a Governor, the President of the Council might find himself Acting Governor, also; the balance of power began to shift away from the Council in the 19th Century, when Bermuda assumed a new importance in Imperial security, when the Governor became the Commander-in-Chief of the new naval establishment and newly re-established and expanded military garrison.
This reflected the increasing importance placed on Bermuda by the Imperial government following the loss of continental bases between Nova Scotia and the West Indies, the threat to the Empire posed by the new United States. The British Government came to view Bermuda more as a base than as a colony, but still had to negotiate with and cajole the Government of Bermuda to aid its plans. Following revisions made to Bermuda's parliamentary system in the 1960s, the two roles once performed by the dissolved Council are now performed by an appointed upper house, the Senate, a Cabinet, composed of Ministers appointed from elected Members of Parliament from the House of Assembly; this was only one of the changes made in the 1960s as a result of the civil rights movement. A constitution was introduced which made Bermuda's parliamentary system more like the Westminster system. Political parties were legalised, the system of a majority Government, from which a Premier was appointed and the Cabinet Ministers were drawn, a minority Opposition was adopted.
The Senate was created to perform a function akin to that of the House of Lords, in London, although its members were appointed, rather than being hereditary, noble peers. The system of suffrage, by which the members of the lower house were elected, which, as in Britain, had been limited to male landowners, was extended to all adults: universal adult suffrage. Although non-white males had not been explicitly banned from either voting or standing for election, the land-owning requirement had barred all but a few from voting; when the numbers of non-white land owners had increased, a minimum property value had been added. A male could vote in each of the nine parishes; the first non-white to stand for election was schoolmaster Augustus Swan, who owned two houses and dry goods stores in Hamilton and Flatts. He was part of a coalition that pledged black support for white candidates Samuel Nash, Ambrose Gosling and RJP Darrell, in exchange for white support of Swan, but the plan failed and none of these candidates won a seat.
The first non-white person to gain a seat in the House of Assembly was William Henry Thomas Joell, elected MCP for Pembroke in May, 1883, who died in 1886 while still holding his seat. He was replaced by John Henry Thomas Jackson, non-white. Bermudian women acquired the vote and the ability to stand for election only in 1944. Changes in 1976 saw the vote restricted to Bermudians, whether Bermudian by birth or by grant of Bermudian status, although other British and Commonwealth citizens who were registered to vote before that date remain enfranchised. In the 1980s, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 years of age. List of Speakers of the House of Assembly of Bermuda Politics of Bermuda
Leader of the Opposition (Bermuda)
The Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition in Bermuda is the leader of the largest political party which has not formed the current government. The Leader of the Opposition is seen as the alternative Premier and leads Bermuda's Opposition and Shadow Cabinet; the current holder of the post of Leader of the Opposition is The Hon. E. David Burt
2007 Bermudian general election
General elections were held in Bermuda on 18 December 2007 to elect all 36 members of the House of Assembly. The incumbent Progressive Labour Party led by Ewart Brown was returned for a third term, with 22 of the 36 seats of the House of Assembly, with the opposition United Bermuda Party winning the remaining 14 seats. Bermuda gained internal self government with the introduction of a constitution in 1968 and for the first 30 years afterwards the United Bermuda Party was in power, their domination was broken by defeat in the 1998 election leading to the Progressive Labour Party winning government for the first time. The PLP government was returned at the 2003 election, winning 22 seats compared to 14 seats for the United Bermuda Party. Bermuda remains a British overseas territory. However, in 2004 the Premier of Bermuda, called for a debate on independence to take place. Ewart Brown became Premier in October 2006, defeating the incumbent, William Alexander Scott, in a contest for the leadership of PLP, while in March 2007 Michael Dunkley became leader of the opposition United Bermuda Party, ousting Wayne Furbert.
On 2 November 2007, Premier Brown announced. Both main parties put up 36 candidates and there were two independent candidates. Altogether 42,337 people were registered to vote with each constituency having about 1,100 voters. An opinion poll in the summer had put the UBP on the PLP on 34 % and 26 % undecided. Analysts saw 7 of the 36 seats as to be close; the incumbent PLP campaigned on the basis of their record where they said they had increased tourism and attracted development to Bermuda. They pledged that they would introduce free day care and ferry transportation if they were re-elected. With Bermuda having a population, 60% of African descent, the PLP said that votes for the UBP were a vote for white people, they used the example of two black people who had left the UBP earlier in the year after saying that the white elite was still in control of the party. The election was seen as being contested on the performance of Premier Brown; the UBP accused him of being involved in corruption. A police dossier had alleged there was corruption in the public housing corporation, but prosecutors said they could not find any evidence of illegality.
The PLP, described their leader as "the man who gets things done". The UBP criticised the PLP for having failed to create enough affordable housing and for their plans for enforcing racial equality in the workplace. A former UBP premier said that the PLP's plan to fine companies if they did not promote black people to senior posts could drive away many expatriates and companies from Bermuda; the UBP said that, if they were elected, they would give Bermudian status to everyone who had lived in Bermuda for more than 20 years, which the PLP said would be a mistake which could lead to 8,000 more Bermudians. At issue in the election was both parties' policies over independence for Bermuda. Premier Brown was in favour of independence but his party said that this was just a long-term goal and that they would not use the election as the basis for a push for independence; the UBP said that they would hold a referendum if they won the election and said that Bermuda should not become independent unless there was clear support in a referendum.
An opinion poll in 2007 had shown. The campaign lasted six weeks, the longest in Bermuda, was seen as being bitter. Polls showed. During the campaign there was an incident when someone attempted to mail a bullet to Premier Brown, but it was intercepted by a postal worker, which led both parties to try to calm the campaign down; the results of the election saw no change from the 2003 election with the Progressive Labour Party still winning 22 seats and the United Bermuda Party 14 seats. The leader of the United Bermuda Party, Michael Dunkley, failed to win election in Smith's North losing by 444 votes to 536, he had given up his safe seat of Devonshire East to try to overturn the United Bermuda Party's deficit by winning a marginal seat