The People's Council
The members of the People's Council are elected for four-year terms by universal suffrage of citizens eighteen years of age or older in direct and secret ballot. The members, the number of which is determined by law, are chosen on the basis of singlemember electoral districts. The Constitution requires that at least half of the council seats be set aside for "workers and peasants." The 195 members of the People's Council serving in 1987 were elected in 1986.
The People's Council sits in three regular sessions annually and may be called into special session by the speaker, by the president, or at the request of one-third of the council members. The lawmakers are granted parliamentary immunity, and even when they are charged with criminal offenses, prior consent of the speaker is required before any prosecution against a member may proceed.
The functions of the council include the nomination of a presidential candidate, enactment of laws, discussion of government policy, approval of the general budget and development plans, and ratification of treaties. In addition, as part of its monitoring of the executive branch, the People's Council is authorized to act on a motion of no-confidence in the Council of Ministers as a whole or in an individual minister. Such a motion must be initiated by at least one-fifth of the members and, to become effective, must be approved by the majority of the People's Council. If the motion is carried, the Council of Ministers or the individual minister concerned must resign. The president can dissolve the People's Council, although the Constitution does not specify grounds for dissolution. It does say that the council may not be dissolved more than once for the same cause.
|Country Studies main page | Syria Country Studies main page|