Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation
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Suriname - Parliamentary Elections on May 25, 2015
Political System
The Republic of Suriname is a democracy based on the 1987 constitution. The legislative branch of government consists of a 51-member unicameral National Assembly, simultaneously and popularly elected for a five-year term. Key decisions, such as amendments to the constitution, the calling of a plebiscite and the election of the president and vice-president, must be approved by at least two-thirds of the National Assembly.

The president, who is elected for a five-year term by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly or, failing that, by a majority of the United People's Assembly (UPA)¹, heads the executive branch. As head of government, the president appoints a 16-minister cabinet, but unlike other Caribbean countries, government ministers are not members of the National Assembly. A Vice president is elected at the same time as the president for a 5-year term. The vice-president is both the leader of the cabinet and the prime minister. There is no constitutional provision for removal or replacement of the president unless he/she resigns. The National Assembly and the president, together hold legislative power.

The Adviesraad – former Raad van State (Council of State) is a supervisory body comprising the president and representatives from the major political forces, including the unions, business, the legislature and the military. It has the power to veto legislation that it deems to be in violation of the Constitution, but is generally inactive. The final power of veto rests with the president, who has one month in which to rule for or against the council’s judgment.

The judiciary is headed by the Court of Justice (Supreme Court) that has a final say in this matter. This court supervises the magistrate courts. Members are appointed for life by the president in consultation with the National Assembly, the State Advisory Council and the National Order of Private Attorneys. In April 2005, the regional Caribbean Court of Justice, based in Trinidad, was inaugurated. As the final court of appeal, it was intended to replace the London-based Privy Council.

The country is divided into 10 administrative districts², each headed by a district commissioner appointed by the president. They have District Councils elected by the people in an indirect election. These districts are divided into 62 “ressorts”/subdistricts. At this level there is only a representative branch.

1- The UPA consists of all elected members of the National Assembly in addition to the elected representatives
    of the District and Local Councils.  For the 2015 Elections a total of 943 members will compose the UPA.
    At the UPA, the President will be elected by a simple majority vote.  Decree Districtenindeling 1983 (SB 1983
    No. 24)

2- Decree Districtenindeling 1983 (SB 1983 No. 24)