Belize Table of Contents

Constitutional and Political Structures Prior to Independence

Constitutional and political development in Belize prior independence in 1981 can be divided into seven stages. The British settlement enjoyed its own legislature, called the Public Meeting, while the crown held executive authority and thus the right to appoint governors. Social, political, and economic factors, however, led British Honduras to surrender its elected legislature, then called the Legislative Assembly, and the legacy of selfgovernance in order to obtain greater security and economic stability as a crown colony in 1871. The arrangement did not grant the crown, however, the right to revoke or amend the colony's constitution, a right which the monarch held in some colonies. The Parliament of Britain continued to exercise its power to amend British Honduras's constitution in conjunction with relevant legislative bodies in the colony. The rise of trade unions in the 1930s and 1940s and the emergence of a mass political party in the 1950s led to the establishment of institutions that would chart British Honduras's steady course toward internal self-rule and independence.

The Public Meeting and the Superintendent, pre-1854
Elected Legislative Assembly, 1854-70
Crown Colony, 1871-1935
The Return to Elected Government, 1936-53
Constitution of 1954 and Extension of Suffrage, 1954-60
The 1960 Constitution
Internal Self-Rule, 1964-81
Constitution of 1981
Preparation of the Independence Constitution

Structure of the Constitution of 1981
Procedure for Amending the Constitution

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress