Prime Minister Philip Davis said a referendum for The Bahamas to transition to a republic is “always on the table” for his administration.
“The only challenge with us moving to a republic is that I can’t – as much I would like to do it – I can’t do it without your consent,” he said in response to a question shortly after he signed the book of condolences for Queen Elizabeth II, who died yesterday.
“I’ll have to have a referendum and the Bahamian people would have to say to me, ‘yes’.”
Asked if a referendum is on the table, he added: “For me it is, always. But again, it is our people who will have to decide.”
Public discussion on The Bahamas transitioning to a republic came up late last year following Davis’ visit to Barbados to observe its transition.
In 2012, then Prime Minister Perry Christie formed a constitutional commission, headed by former Attorney General Sean McWeeney, which examined, among other issues, whether The Bahamas should “evolve from a constitutional monarchy into a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations”.
In its report, which was released in July 2013, the commission wrote, “The traditional argument for the evolution to republican status is that it is a natural step towards completing the ‘circle of independence’ and attaining full sovereignty and that the retention of the British monarch is an historical anachronism, a hangover from the colonial era that formally ended in The Bahamas 40 years ago.”
It noted that removing the queen as head of state and transitioning to a republic would involve “considerable” financial, administrative, social, and cultural costs for The Bahamas because royal insignia on government buildings would have to be removed and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Royal Bahamas Police Force would have to undergo a rebranding.