Caribbean Elections

Volume 20 of the Global Perspectives on Legal History out now

February 28, 2023

The book examines the process of electoral reform in the Bahamas during the twentieth century in the broader context of decolonisation. Beginning with the General Assembly Elections Act of 1919, which reaffirmed a franchise limited to propertied men, milestones include the introduction of voting by secret ballot between 1939 and 1946, universal adult male suffrage in 1959, women’s suffrage in 1961, and the incremental abolition of plural voting between 1959 and 1969.

This legal and political historical study draws on a variety of sources from Great Britain and the Bahamas, such as legislation, legal cases, government records, newspapers and blogs. It also analyses the effect that the electoral reforms have had on the state of democracy in the modern-day Bahamas in shaping the relationship between the postcolonial state and its citizens. The author concludes that since independence in 1973 the reform progress has stalled. Civil society, the driving force behind the twentieth-century reforms, has been largely dormant since then.

After graduating from the Free University of Berlin, Stephen B. Aranha worked in the Bahamas where he joined the then College of The Bahamas as an Assistant Professor in History. In 2016, he returned to Germany as a doctoral student at our institute. He earned his doctorate from the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main in 2021.

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