SECTION IV. The Form of Government and Its Various Powers
The nation adopts the democratic republican form of government.
Its sovereignty shall be exercised directly by the voters [Cuerpo Electoral] through election, initiative, and referendum, and indirectly by the representative powers which this Constitution establishes; all in conformity with the rules herein set forth.
SECTION V. The Legislative Power
The Legislative Power shall be exercised by the General Assembly.
The latter shall be composed of two Chambers: one of Representatives and the other of Senators, which shall function jointly or separately according to the various provisions of this Constitution.
The General Assembly is competent:
- To enact and order publication of the Codes;
- To establish Tribunals and regulate the Administration of Justice and of Contentious-Administrative matters;
- To enact laws relating to the independence, security, tranquility, and decorum of the Republic; the protection of all individual rights and the fostering of education, agriculture, industry, and domestic and foreign trade;
- To impose the necessary taxes to meet budgetary expenditures, provide for their distribution, collection and appropriation, and to repeal, modify, or increase those in existence;
- To approve or disapprove, in whole or in part, the accounts presented by the Executive Power;
- To authorize, on the initiative of the Executive Power, the National Public Debt, to consolidate it, to provide for its guaranties, and to regulate the public credit, an absolute majority of the full membership of each Chamber being necessary in the three first-mentioned cases;
- To declare war and to approve or disapprove, by an absolute majority of the full membership of both Chambers, the treaties of peace, alliance, commerce, and conventions or contracts of any nature which the Executive Power may make with foreign powers;
- To designate each year the armed force that may be necessary. Military effectives may be increased only by an absolute majority of the votes of the full membership of each Chamber;
- To create new Departments by a vote of two-thirds majority of the full membership of each Chamber; to establish their boundaries; to establish ports of entry; to establish customhouses and export and import duties, applying, with respect to the latter, the provisions of Article 87; and also to declare as of national interest tourist zones, which shall be administered by the appropriate Ministry;
- To establish the weight, standard and value of monies; to fix the rates and denominations thereof; and to provide a system of weights and measures;
- To permit or prohibit the entry of foreign troops into the territory of the Republic, and in the former case, to fix the time when they must depart. Excepted from the above are forces which may enter for the sole purpose of doing honor and whose entry shall be authorized by the Executive Power;
- To refuse or permit the expedition of national forces outside the Republic, in the latter case fixing the time for their return to the country;
- To create or abolish public offices, determining their compensation and retirement regulations, and to approve, disapprove, or decrease the budgets of expenditures presented by the Executive Power; to grant pensions and other classes of pecuniary compensation and to decree public honors as a reward for distinguished services;
- To grant pardons by a two-thirds vote of the full membership of the General Assembly in joint session, and to grant amnesties in extraordinary cases, by an absolute majority vote of the full membership of each Chamber;
- To issue regulations concerning the militia and to fix their number and designate the times they shall be called to service;
- To select the place where the principal authorities of the Nation must reside;
- To grant monopolies by a two-thirds vote of the full membership of each Chamber. To establish a monopoly in favor of the State or of a Departmental Government requires an absolute majority of the votes of the full membership of each Chamber;
- To elect, in joint session of both Chambers, the members of the Supreme Court of Justice, of the Electoral Court, of the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, and of the Tribunal of Accounts, subject to the provisions of the respective Sections;
- To pass political judgment on the conduct of the Ministers of State, in accordance with the provisions of Section VIII;
- To interpret the Constitution, without prejudice to the power of the Supreme Court of Justice under Article 256 to 261.
The creation and abolishment of public offices and services; the fixing and changing of salaries, and the authorization of expenditures, shall be effected through the budgetary laws, subject to the provisions of Section XIV.
Any other law which involves expenses to be borne by the National Treasury must indicate the revenues from which they shall be paid. But the initiative in the creation of offices, increases in salaries and retirement pay, the granting and increasing of pensions or pecuniary compensation, shall be vested solely in the Executive Power.
An affirmative vote of the absolute majority of the full membership of each Chamber shall be necessary to authorize taxes.
The Chamber of Representatives is composed of ninety-nine members elected directly by the people, under a system of proportional representation which takes into account the votes cast in favor of each lema in all the country.
Accumulation by sublemas [factions] or through identity of lists of candidates cannot be effected.
Two Representatives, at the least, will correspond to each Department.
The number of Representatives may be modified by the law, that shall require for its sanction, two-thirds of the vote of the total of the membership of each Chamber.
Representatives shall hold office for five years and their election shall be effected under the guaranties and rules of suffrage provided in Section III.
To be a Representative it is necessary to be a natural citizen in full exercise of civil rights, or a legal citizen who has exercised his civil rights for five years, and in both cases, to have attained twenty-five years of age.
The following may not be Representatives:
- The President and Vice President of the Republic, members of the Judicial Power, the Tribunal of Accounts, the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, the Electoral Court, of the Councils or Boards of Directors, or Directors of the Autonomous Entities and of the Decentralized Services, of the Departmental Boards, the Local Boards, and Intendants;
- Military employees or civil employees of the Executive, Legislative or Judicial Powers, the Electoral Court, Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, Tribunal of Accounts, the Departmental Governments, the Autonomous Entities and the Decentralized Services, if they receive a salary, but excepting retired or pensioned employees. This provision does not apply to university teaching positions or university technicians with teaching functions, but if the elected Representative chooses to continue in such position, it must be honorary during his term in office. Military persons who resign their posts and salary in order to serve in the Legislature shall retain their rank, but for the duration of their legislative functions they may not be promoted; they shall be exempt from all military discipline and the time during which they hold their legislative position shall not be counted for purposes of seniority for promotion.
The President of Republic, the Vice President of the Republic, and any citizens who may have replaced the President, if they held office for more than one year, continuous or discontinuous may not be candidates for Representative. Likewise, Judges and Prosecuting Attorneys [fiscales letrados], Intendants, Police Officials in the Department where they perform their duties, military officers in the districts in which they command forces or actively perform any other military function, may not be candidates unless they resign and terminate their positions three months prior to the election.
Councilors and Directors of the Autonomous Entities and the Decentralized Services shall be subject to the provisions of Article 201.
The Chamber of Representatives has the exclusive rights of impeachment, before the Chamber of Senators, of the members of both Chambers, of the President and Vice President of the Republic, the Ministers of State, the members of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, the Court of Accounts, and of the Electoral Court, for violation of the Constitution or for other serious offenses, after taking cognizance of the matter upon petition by a party or by one of its members, and having decided that there are grounds for prosecution.
The Chamber of Senators shall be composed of thirty members, elected directly by the people, in a single electoral district, pursuant to the guaranties and rules concerning suffrage contained in Section III and as stated in subsequent articles.
It shall also include the Vice President of the Republic, who shall have a voice and vote, and exercises its Presidency, and that of the General Assembly.
Whenever he permanently or temporarily assumes the Presidency of the Republic, or in the event of a permanent or temporary vacancy in the Vice Presidency, these presidencies shall be assumed by the first titular [person] of the list most voted for of the lema most voted for and, if the same circumstances recur, the titular [person] following on the same list. In such cases, an alternate shall be convoked, who shall be a member of the Senate.
The Senators shall be elected by the system of integral proportional representation.
The distribution of the Chamber of Senators seats obtained by different sublemas of the same party shall also be based on the number of votes cast in favor of the respective lists.
Senators shall have a term of office of five years.
To be a Senator it is necessary to be a natural citizen in full exercise of civil rights, or a legal citizen who has exercised these rights for seven years, and in both cases to have attained thirty years of age.
The disqualifications to which Article 91 refers are applicable to Senators, with such exceptions as are stated therein.
Judges and Prosecuting Attorneys, police officials, and military officers in command of forces or engaged in some military activity may not be candidates for Senator, unless they resign and terminate their position three months prior to the election.
For the Counselors and Directors of Autonomous Entities and of the Decentralized Services it will be as provided by Article 201.
A citizen who has been elected both as a Senator and as a Representative may choose between the two offices.
The Chamber of Senators is competent to initiate the public trial of those impeached by the Chamber of Representatives or a Departmental Board, as the case may be, and to pronounce sentence, by a two-thirds vote of its full membership, and such sentence shall have the sole effect of removal from office.
An impeached person whom the Chamber of Senators has removed from office in accordance with the preceding article shall nevertheless be subject to trial according to law.