Moreover, I am going to prove from democratic standpoint that the Old representative system and the Crown Colony Government are different as it relates to the degree of democracy that was allowed within the two types of Governance. Trevor Monroe asserts that the word democracy comes from the bringing together of two Greek words, demos, which means people, and kratia, which means to rule. Monroe further asserts that in democratic states political rights are recognized and practiced to some degree (Munroe, 2002).
Therefore, it is safe to say that autocracy is the opposite of democracy in that it is based on self derived power or in other words absolute authority and supremacy of an individual or group. Moreover, Monroe affirms that in authoritarian states there is no equality in the rule of the law, he goes on to mention that the laws within these states are for some but the rulers are above the law. The most critical point Monroe puts forward is that the rules that exist under an authoritarian system are influenced by the desires of the ruling group and may change from time to time(Monroe. 2002).
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Understanding these two terminologies will provide a clearer understanding to the reader as it relates to the Old Representative System and the Crown Colony Government. From the inception of slavery in the Caribbean to the time of the Crown Colony Government, the ideology of the powers that be (plantocracy or elite) was to maintain absolute power and control over the people who were considered of a lower class (Slaves). To get a better grasp of the architecture of the Old Representative System and its functions I shall therefore focus on the writings of Edward long and Brian Edwards.
Long and Edwards affirms that the Old Representative system was the predominant constitutional form in the British colonies in the West Indies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Long and Edwards go on further to state that “as a governmental system, the ORS consisted of three basic elements in the form or Governor, Council, and Assembly”. The Governor as the authors explain was the chief executive and was appointed by the Crown and was the local representative of imperial interest in the colony (Long and Edward. 004).
The council, the authors assert was appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Governor, functioned as a second chamber of the colonial legislature and also as an advisory council to the Governor who exercised, under the general supervision of the crown, general powers of suspension and dismissal over its members. Based on the information being presented by the authors it can clearly be seen that there was some form of limited democracy.
Long and Edwards affirms that in some colonies, the council acting together with the Governor, also exercised judicial functions as an appellate court in cases involving sums in excess of three hundred pounds but not exceeding five hundred pounds, in which case appeals lay to the crown’s privy council. Lastly, long and Edwards asserts that the assemblies varied in size and were elected by freeholders on a franchise which in it self varied among different colonies.
The author’s articulate that the constitutional form together with the respective powers and functions of the constituent elements of the ORS were laid down in the commission and instructions issued to the Governor by the Crown under the authority of the royal prerogative (Long and Edward. 2004). Long and Edward provides evidence to support the fact that there was limited democracy with the ORS. They stated that “within the overall framework of the ORS, it was clearly intended that the Assemble should be subordinate to the Governor and Council”.
The general subordination of the assembly was secured by the power of the Governor to refuse assent legislative power with the assembly, including the right to amend money bills passed by the Assembly. According to Long and Edward however, in spite of these restrictions, the Assembly through the effective use of its power over supplies, acquired considerable power and became the dominant element of the colonial constitutional structure, in the face of determined attempts on the part of the imperial government to limit its legislative competence and to confine its power within the legal bounds of a provincial council.
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