THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF ALGERIA
I - COMPOSITION
144 members of which :
- 96 (two-thirds of the house) are elected by indirect secret ballot
- 48 (one-third) are appointed by the President of the Republic on the strength of their scientific, cultural, professional, economic and social expertise.
The number of members of the National Council cannot exceed half the members of the popular National Assembly.
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
48 binominal constituencies (two seats) coinciding with the wilayas (prefectures) in Algeria.
Voting system :
- single majority vote by an electoral college of elected members of the wilaya popular assemblies and communal popular assemblies (total number of electoral college members is 15,003 members).
Eligibility conditions :
- member of the popular wilaya and communal assemblies
Minimum age : 40 years old.
Term of office : six years, renewable in halves every three years.
First election: 25 December 1997.
Most recent replacement : 30 December 2003
Confirm of members' terms falls within the purview of the National Council itself.
III - SESSION CALENDAR
A - ORDINARY SESSIONS
Two per year, each lasting no more than five months :
- spring session lasts from March to July,
- autumn session lasts from September to January.
B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
The Council may be convened for a given agenda :
- at the behest of the president of the republic,
- by the president of the republic, at the request of the head of government or by two-thirds of the members of the National Popular Assembly.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND EXECUTIVE
A - LEGISLATIVE POWER
Legislative power is exercised by Parliament, which consists of two chambers : the National Popular Assembly and the National Council.
1) Legislative initiative
2) Right of amendment
No. (Opinion N° 04/A.R.I/C.C/98 dated 10 February 1998 of the Constitutional Council regarding compliance of National Council internal regulations with the Constitution).
3) Legislative procedure
a) Ordinary procedure
All draft laws or acts must be deliberated successively by the National Popular Assembly (to which the draft is referred first) and then by the National Council to be passed.
All statutes adopted by the Assembly are then sent to the National Council within ten days.
The National Council considers the act adopted by the Assembly. A majority of three quarters of Council members is required to adopt the act.
Should there be disagreement between the chambers, a mixed parity commission comprising ten members from each chamber meets at the behest of the head of government to propose a text on the provisions regarding which there is disagreement.
The government submits the act for approval by both chambers. The proposed act may not be amended without approval by the government.
The government must withdraw the act should the disagreement continue.
b) Budgetary issues
Parliament adopts the draft budget within 75 days of its submission. The National Council has a maximum of twenty days to deliberate on the budget.
Should the budget not be passed within this period, the President of the Republic enables the draft budget by means of an enabling edict.
4) Legislation by edict (emergency regulations)
In the event that the National Popular Assembly is not sitting or competent, the President of the Republic may legislate by edict.
The president submits his statutes for approval by both chambers of Parliament when they next sit.
Edicts not adopted by Parliament are invalid.
B - ACCOUNTABILITY
1) Commissions of enquiry
The National Council (and the Assembly) may instigate a commission of enquiry at any moment with regard to affairs of general interest.
2) Budgetary accountability
The government must account to both chambers for the use of budget amounts it has been voted. Each budget year is closed by the adoption by both chambers of a law budgeting the financial year in question.
Members of Parliament may raise questions before the government regarding current issues.
They may raise written and oral questions to any member of government.
Written questions must be answered in writing within no more than 30 days.
Oral questions are answered in session.
A debate may be held if one of either chamber considers that the written or oral response justifies the debate.
4) With regard to international issues
a) At the request of the president of the republic or of one of the presidents of both chambers, Parliament may hold a debate on foreign policy, which may culminate in a resolution by Parliament in congress, where applicable.
b) Armistice accords, peace treaties, alliances and unions, treaties concerning the State's frontiers, condition of people and those incurring expenses not scheduled in the budget must be formally approved by each chamber before ratification.
5) Government agenda
a) The head of government submits a communication regarding the government's agenda to the National Council.
The Council may issue a resolution.
b) The head of government may submit a general policy declaration before the Council.
V - SPECIFIC MEASURES
A - CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
1) Initiated by the president of the republic, an amendment to the Constitution is voted in identical terms by the National Popular Assembly and the National Council under the ordinary legislative procedure. After the Constitutional Council has issued its opinion, the amendment may be enacted without holding a national referendum if it adopted by three-quarters of the members of both chambers.
2) Three-quarters of the members of both chambers in congress may propose a constitutional amendment and submit it to the president of the republic who may hold a referendum accordingly.
B - THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ELECTS TWO OF THE NINE MEMBERS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL.
C - EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES
Consultation with the president of the National Council :
1) To decree a state of emergency or a state of siege, whose term may only with approval from Parliament in congress.
2) To decree a state of exception, Parliament may convene without further requirements.
3) For a general mobilisation.
4) For a declaration of war, Parliament may convene without further requirements.
In this instance, in the event that the president of the republic is not exercising his powers, the prerogatives required by a state of war are assumed by the president of the National Council in his capacity as Head of State.
D - INTERIM FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
1) Incapacity of the president of the republic (illness)
Declared by Parliament in congress, requiring two-thirds of all members. Parliament empowers the President of the National Council for an interim period not exceeding 45 days.
2) Vacancy in the event of death or resignation
The President of the National Council ensures the interim for no more than 60 days during which presidential elections must be organised.
E - BOTH CHAMBERS OF PARLIAMENT MAY BE CONVENED IN CONGRESS UNDER THE PRESIDENCY OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL.
F - JURISDICTION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
The president of the republic, the president of the National Popular Council and the president of the National Council may refer an issue to the Constitutional Council.
With regard to legislative power alone to date, the president of the National Council referred a matter to the Constitutional Council in May 1998 as per Article 165 of the Constitution concerning the constitutionality of laws.