State and politics
Belize is a parliamentary democracy. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how BZ can stand for Belize. The Constitution of
1981 states that the British monarch is the head of state
and is represented by a Belizean governor-general. To his
assistance, the Governor-General has the Belize Advisory
Council whose members he appoints himself, partly in
consultation with the opposition leader. The
Governor-General appoints the Prime Minister. Other
Ministers are appointed by the Governor-General on a
proposal by the Prime Minister.
Parliament consists of the Senate and the House of
Representatives. The twelve members of the Senate are
appointed by the Governor-General, six of them on the
proposal of the Prime Minister, three on the proposal of the
opposition leader and three on the recommendation of various
civil society organizations. The House of Representatives
consists of 31 members who are elected by majority vote in
one-man constituencies for five years.
The two leading parties are the Social Democratic
People's United Party (PUP) and the more conservative
United Democratic Party (UDP), formed in 1973. The
1998 and 2003 elections were won by the PUP, but in 2008 the
UDP returned to power. UDP leader Dean Barrow became the
country's first black prime minister historically. The UDP
retained government power after the 2012 election, but
backed from 25 to 17 seats in the House of Representatives.
See also History.
The country consists of a number of judicial districts
with local courts. The central courts are the Supreme
Court, the Court of Appeal and the Family
Court. The substantive right is based almost entirely
on English law. The death penalty can be punished for some