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Backgrounds: Dominican Republic Government
The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy whose national powers are divided among independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The president appoints the cabinet, executes laws passed by the legislative branch, and is commander in chief of the armed forces. The president and vice president run for office on the same ticket and are elected by direct vote for 4-year terms. Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral congress--the Senate (32 members), and the chamber of deputies (150 members).
Presidential elections are held in years evenly divisible by four. Congressional and municipal elections are held in even numbered years not divisible by four. Under the constitutional reforms negotiated after the 1994 elections, the 16-member Supreme Court of Justice is appointed by a National Judicial Council, which is comprised of the President, the leaders of both houses of Congress, the President of the Supreme Court, and an opposition, or nongoverning party member (one other Supreme Court Justice acts as secretary of the Council, a nonvoting position.) The Court has sole jurisdiction over actions against the president, designated members of his cabinet, and members of Congress.
The Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts and chooses members of lower courts. Each of the 31 provinces is headed by a presidentially appointed governor. Elected mayors and municipal councils administer the National District (Santo Domingo) and the 124 municipal districts.
The Dominican Republic has a multi-party political system with national elections every 2 years (alternating between congressional and presidential). Following the allegations of irregularities in 1994, international observers have generally agreed that presidential and congressional elections since 1996 have been free and fair.
The Dominican Republic maintains an embassy in the United States at 1715 22d Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-6280.
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