BAHRAIN : THE MAJLIS-AL-SHURA CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL
A draft amendment (National Charter) proposed by the Emir of Bahrain, providing notably the creation of a bicameral Parliament, was approved by referendum on February 14 and 15, 2001 by 94.8% of voters.
In creating it, its founders mean to establish a regulation bodyentrusted with a genuine legislative power: it is designed to ensure a balance between the government and the elected assembly in order to prevent any crisis situation which would lead the government to dissolve of the Lower House.
I - COMPOSITION
II - NOMINATION SYSTEM
- Term: 4 years; possibility of re-election
- Minimum age: 35 years
- First nomination: November 16, 2002
HM The King used its nomination power to ensure a better representation of the Bahrainian society. On the one hand, he corrected the Shiite sub-representation among the Council of Representatives, caused by the general elections boycott in October 2002 by the four major opposition movements, wishing that the Constitution would assert the predominance of the Council of Representatives over the Shura Council. On the other hand, HM the King appointed 6 women with professional responsibilities, whereas no female candidate had been elected to the general elections.
III - REGIME DES SESSIONS
The Consultative Council shall meet during the same period as the Chamber of Deputies.
When it is dissolved, the session of the Consultative Council shall be suspended.
A - ORDINARY SESSION
It shall open on the second Saturday of October - or on the first following working day if it happens to be a bank holiday - except if HM the King convenes the Parliament - the National Assembly - before this date. HM the King may postpone the opening of the session by a maximum of two months. Such a delay may only be repeated once during the same session. The delay shall not be included in the duration of the session.
The session shall last at least 7 months and it cannot be closed before the adoption of the budget.
B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
The two Chambers may be convened for an extraordinary session if HM the King thinks it is useful, or at the request of the majority of the members of each Chamber, according to a pre-determined agenda.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE
A - LEGISLATIVE POWER
The legislative power shall belong to HM the King and the National Assembly.
1) Legislative initiative
Shall belong to the Council members as well as to deputies and to HM the King.
When the initiator is an MP, the private bill shall be sent back to the relevant committee of the assembly that brought it for it to give its opinion. In the event the assembly agrees on it, it shall send it back to the Government for it to be tabled as a public bill at the Chamber of Deputies.
In the event the assembly does not agree on it, the same private bill cannot be presented again during the same period.
2) Right to amendment
Shall belong to the Consultative Council members in conjunction with deputies.
3) Legislative procedure
A bill shall not be adopted without the agreement of both Chambers, or that of the National Assembly (the Parliament), depending on the situation.
a - ordinary procedure :
Public bills shall be tabled by the Prime minister to the Chamber of Deputies, and then transmitted - after examination - to the Consultative Council. If it does not approve the text adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, the President of the Council shall send back the draft to the Chamber of Deputies, as it was left by the Council for re-examination.
If the text is approved by the Chamber, its President shall transmit it to the Prime minister who then shall submit it to HM the King.
The Chamber may reject the text of the Council and maintain its decision taken during the first reading without introducing new amendments. In this case, the text that come out of the deliberations shall be sent back for re-examination to the Council, which may accept it or maintain its first reading position.
After two divergent considerations by each chamber, there shall be a joint meeting of the National Assembly, chaired by the President of the Consultative Council, in order to examine the provisions that have not been agreed by the two houses. The majority of present members is necessary for the draft bill to be approved by the National Assembly. If it is not approved, it cannot be tabled again at the National Assembly during the same session.
Ratification and promulgation by HM the King: After a period of 6 months from the date when the text was transmitted to HM the King, it is considered as ratified and promulgated by HM the King if he has not sent it back to the assemblies for it to be discussed once again. In the event of another deliberation, if the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies - the National Assembly - confirm their voting of the draft bill with a 2/3 majority of its members, HM the King shall ratify it and promulgate it within one month after its latest adoption.
b - emergency procedure :
The Government may demand the emergency procedure for economical and financial texts. In this case, the Chamber of Deputies shall give its opinion within 15 days. At the end of this period, in any case, the draft bill is transmitted to the Consultative Council, which also has 15 days to give its decision.
In the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the text is submitted to the National Assembly, which has 15 days to give its decision. If no decision has been taken during this period, HM the King may publish the draft as a statutory order having force of law.
c - budget procedure :
The finance draft bill, prepared by the Government, is submitted to the Chamber of Deputies at least two months before the end of the financial year, and to the examination of the Consultative Council regarding its conformity with the constitutional provisions.
d - statutory orders :
Between sessions, in case of emergency, HM the King may publish statutory orders having force of law.
Statutory orders shall be presented to the Consultative Council and to the Chamber of Deputies during the month following their promulgation, during the session or during the month of the first meeting in each chamber, in the event of dissolution or the end of life of the Parliament.
If not, or if they are not confirmed by the chambers, they retroactively lose their legal force.
B - CONTROLLING POWER
1) As soon as it is formed, the Government shall submit its agenda to the National Assembly, which may make some observations.
2) The members of the Consultative Council may ask written questions to ministers on issues within their range of competence.
3) Budgetary control
The budget of the past year shall be first submitted to the Chamber of Deputies within 5 months after the end of the financial year.
It shall be approved by a joint decision of both chambers, accompanied by their commentaries, and published in the official gazette.
4) International field
HM the King shall conclude treaties and inform the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies.
However, a bill shall be necessary to promulgate peace and alliance treaties, and those dealing with the national territory, natural resources, sovereignty, rights of the citizens, trade, navigation, domicile, or those requiring law modifications.
5) The Consultative Council - as well as the Chamber of Deputies - may demand that a minister be present in a debate within his range of competence.
V - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS
A - CONSTITUENT POWER
Besides HM the King, 15 members of the Consultative Council or the Chamber of Deputies shall have the right to propose an amendment to the Constitution.
In this case, the committee concerned in the depository assembly shall be consulted on the proposal. If it is accepted, the assembly shall send it back to the Government to be presented as an amendment to the Constitution, and tabled at the Chamber of Deputies.
In the event the assembly does not agree on it, the same private bill cannot be presented again during the same session.
The amendment shall be approved with a 2/3 majority of the members composing both assemblies and by HM the King.
B - HM the King - on his initiative or at the Prime minister's request - may convene together the Consultative Council and the Chamber of Deputies to form the National Assembly.
C - CONSTITUTIONAL CONTROL
Bills may be submitted to the Constitutional Court for consideration.
HM the King may submit any draft bill to it before their adoption so that it examines its constitutionality.
D - DECLARATION OF WAR
1) The ordinance for a declaration of war shall be presented immediately to the National Assembly for it to decide about the leading of the war.
2) The martial law can be proclaimed by ordinance for a maximum period of 3 months, renewable only with the agreement of the majority of National Assembly present members.