The Constitution of 1983 affirms the Salvadoran government as republican, democratic, and representative, as had the constitution of 1962. The government is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The military, although not a constitutional branch of government per se, exerts considerable influence over the country's governance and serves as the most immediate representative of the government for many Salvadorans, particularly those in rural areas and in the zones most affected by the insurgency.
The executive branch is made up of the president of the republic, the vice president, ministers and vice ministers of state, and their subordinate officials. The president must be Salvadoran by birth, over thirty years of age, of good character, and a member of a legally recognized political party. The president is elected by direct popular vote, serves a five-year term, and may not run for reelection. Several categories of individuals are proscribed from seeking the office of president: anyone who has held the office of president for more than six months prior to the beginning of a presidential term; the spouse or relatives to the fourth degree of consanguinity of said officeholder; anyone who had held the office of president of the Legislative Assembly or president of the Supreme Court of Justice for one year prior to the beginning of a presidential term; anyone who has held the post of minister, vice minister, or head of an official autonomous institution for the same one-year period; or any professional member of the military who is or has been on active duty during a three-year period prior to the beginning of a term. The same restrictions apply to those holding the offices of vice president or designado (the two individuals designated by the legislature as next in line after the vice president for presidential succession).
The powers of the president are circumscribed to some extent by the Constitution. The president requires the approval of the Legislative Assembly in order to leave the country. He is required to report to the assembly upon request on any subject except secret military strategy. In addition, the president can be declared physically or mentally incapacitated by a two-thirds vote of the assembly.
The president is charged with the "direction of foreign relations" and is designated the commander in chief of the armed forces. He is required to report to the Legislative Assembly within the first two months of each year on developments within the country and the government during the course of the previous calendar year (the Salvadoran "state of the union" address).
Ministers and vice ministers are named and removed by the president. They are required to be Salvadoran by birth and over twenty-five years of age. Together with the president and vice president, the Council of Ministers (or cabinet) produces the government plan--the projected requirements of the government for the coming year--and proposes a budget to the assembly at least three months before the beginning of the fiscal year.
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