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Dominican Republic Government


Government of the Dominican Republic takes place in a framework of a representative democracy, whereby the President of the Dominican Republic is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the National Congress. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The Executive has long been the dominant branch in the Dominican governmental system. The president of the Dominican Republic is both the Head of State and the Head of Government, and is Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

A cabinet of ministers (Secretarios de Estado) that he designates assists the President in his functions. Since August 2004, the President of the Republic is Leonel Fernández Reina and the Vice president is Rafael Alburquerque de Castro, of Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), which won in the first election round with a majority vote of 57.11%.

The President and Vice President are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a four-year term, and they can be re-elected only for a consecutive period, according to the last amendment made to the Constitution in 2002. Elections are held in years evenly divisible by four.

The Dominican Constitution takes 27 paragraphs to spell out the president's extensive powers. Among the most important are those that grant him authority over virtually all appointments and removals of public officials, and even popular elected ones; empower him to promulgate the laws passed by Congress; direct him to engage in diplomatic relations; and empower him to command, to deploy, and to make appointments in, the armed forces. The president also has vast emergency powers to suspend basic rights in times of emergency, to defer the legislature, to declare a state of siege, and to rule by decree.

The 1966 Constitution provides for ministers and sub-cabinet ministers to assist in public administration. These officials must be Dominican citizens, at least 25 years of age, with full civil and political rights. The powers of the ministers are determined by law. However, the president is constitutionally responsible for the actions of his ministers. Ministers serve at the president's discretion, and function both as administrators of their ministries and as agents of presidential authority.

Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral National Congress (Congreso de la República). The upper house is the Senate (Senado) with 32 members, elected for a four year term in single-seat constituencies. The lower house is the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) with 178 members, elected for a four year term by proportional representation in accordance to each province, as follows: one deputy is elected for every 50,000 inhabitants plus fraction exceeding 25,000, but never less than two.

Congressional and municipal elections are held separately from the presidential elections. Re-election is always possible, without any limitation. The office of Senator and Deputy are incompatible with any other position or employment at the Public Administration.

The Judicial Power is charged of administering justice in order to ensure the respect, protection and supervision of rights recognised under the Constitution and laws. Its higher organ is the Supreme Court of Justice, which is composed of 16 judges appointed by the National Council of Magistrates, an entity created by the constitutional reform of 1994 to ensure the independence of the Judicial Branch. The National Council of Magistrates is nominated by the three major political parties.

The Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts and chooses members of lower courts. It has sole jurisdiction over actions against the President, designated members of his cabinet, and members of Congress. It has administrative and financial autonomy.

Apart from working as an appeals court for all judgements rendered by judicial courts, the Supreme Court supervises all judges in the Dominican territory.

Each of the 31 provinces is headed by a presidentially appointed governor. People-elected mayors and municipal councils administer the National District (Santo Domingo) and the 103 municipal districts.

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