Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Say yes to a Commonwealth

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The people of The Commonwealth of Dominica celebrated their national independence this past week. It may be interesting for us to note that Dominica has broken out of the shell of colonialism and has been a proud parliamentary republic for 37 years.

When the country obtained its release from Crown colony status on November 3, 1978, Dominicans immediately accepted that with the deepest respect to the monarch’s grace and majesty, Queen Elizabeth of Windsor would no longer be their head of state.

The newborn brave little island realm of barely 75 000 inhabitants would thenceforward be known on the world stage as The Commonwealth of Dominica with an eminent Dominican citizen as its president, a parliament consisting of popularly elected representatives, an executive headed by the ruling party’s prime minister, and a constitution.

The term Commonwealth was first applied specifically to the government of England between 1649 and 1660 – a period during which England abolished the monarchy and the country was managed by its parliament under the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.

The word, derived from the ideological proposition of “the common welfare”, is perfectly synonymous with the sense of “republic”, it being the 17th century English equivalent of democratic rule where supreme power is vested in the people through a representative system.

Bahamas is the first British Crown-held Caribbean island state that uses the term in its official name but the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is still a constitutional monarchy.

Perhaps the designation “Commonwealth of Barbados” would be more acceptable to our conservative psyche than “Republic of Barbados”. We are certainly a strange political entity to be called a monarchy after 50 years of Independence and having never even been officially recognised constitutionally as a Crown colony!

Barbados is looking like the proverbial duck with an identity crisis.

– LEE FARNUM-BADLEY

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