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THE CAMBODIAN SENATE

 

The Cambodian Senate was set up by a Constitutional Review adopted on 4 March 1999. 

The Senate acts as moderator in facilitating relations between the legislature and the executive, and as an intermediary between the people and the Government. It also has a duty to guarantee that laws are in the interest of the nation. 

 

I - COMPOSITION

The number of senators shall not exceed half of the number of deputies.

Sixty-one members :

- 59 indirectly elected, though specifically elected by Commune/Sangkat Councillors

- two appointed by the National Assembly

 For the first legislature, all 61 members of the Senate were appointed by the King (25 March 1999): 2 at his discretion, and the other 59 proposed by the President of the Senate (himself appointed by the King) and the President of the National Assembly from members of parties with seats in the Assembly.

 

II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Electoral college: in each region, deputies elected in the region as well as town councilors in office.

Voting system: représentation proportionnelle à la plus forte moyenne.

Constituency: the region ( 8 in total). The number of seats attributed to each region shall be determined before each senatorial election. Otherwise, the region shall continue with the same number of seats as before.

Term of office: 6 years 

Minimum age for election or appointment: 40 years old.

Other eligibility requirements: Cambodian citizenship

Incompatibilities: Any other active public function, member of National Assembly, membership in other institutions that are provided for in the constitution

First elections: 22 January 2006.

Last elections: 29 January 2012


[1] The first Senate elections only took place on 22 January 2006 because of the delay in elaborating the electoral legislation, which was finally adopted on 31 May 2005.

 

III - ORGANISATION OF SESSIONS 

A - ORDINARY SESSIONS  

Two ordinary sessions per year, each lasting three months. 

B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS  

Extraordinary sessions may take place if convened by the Standing Committee (made up of the President, the two Vice-presidents and commission presidents), or on the proposal of the President, the Prime Minister, or at least one third of senators. 

 

IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE

 

A - LEGISLATIVE POWER  

Bicameral system where the houses have unequal powers.

1) The right to propose legislation  

This right lies with senators, deputies and the Prime Minister. 

Senators' proposals are sent back to the National Assembly by the Senate standing committee after they have been examined by the competent specialist commission of the Senate. 

2) Right of amendment 

The Constitution does not explicitly give the right of amendment to the Senate. Nevertheless, it acknowledges that the Senate shall have the power to adopt "modifications" to the texts that were submitted to its examination. Then, the text once "modified" shall be sent to the National Assembly for another reading. Even if the term "amendment" does not exist formally, the procedure does exist.

3) Legislative procedure  

The Senate gives its opinions on draft laws and on amendments previously adopted by the National Assembly within one month (five days in urgent cases). Laws adopted by the National Assembly are promulgated if no opinion is forthcoming within that period of time. 

If the Senate asks for changes, these must be examined by the Assembly, which in turn may reject them or accept them in part. 

If the Senate rejects draft laws or amendments, the Assembly may not give them a second reading for one month (ten days for budgetary issues, four days for urgent matters), and must adopt them by an absolute majority. 

Draft laws and amendments submitted to the Senate for examination are passed on to specialist commissions, whose opinions the President notifies to the Senate at the end of the examination. 

In the event of disagreement at the end of the procedure, the National Assembly has the final say. 

The Constitutional Court may have legal matters raised with it. 

B - SUPERVISORY POWERS 

In the main, this is the prerogative of the National Assembly. 

C - DECISION-MAKING POWERS 

The National Assembly and the Senate may meet in Congress to resolve the main problems facing the country. 

The Presidents of these two Chambers are Co-Presidents of this Congress. 

 

V - SPECIAL MEASURES 

A - COMPETENCES OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE 

1) The President of the Senate deputises for the Head of State in the event of the King's absence, incapacity or death. 

2) He is also a member of the Council of the Throne, a body with responsibility for choosing a new King if the present one were to die. 

3) The agreement of the President of the Senate (as well as those of the Prime Minister and the President of the National Assembly) is required for the King to proclaim a state of emergency. 

B - DECLARATION OF WAR 

To declare war, the King must have the agreement of the Senate and the approval of the National Assembly. 

C - LEGAL PROCEEDINGS ON THE GROUNDS OF UNCONSTITUTIONALITY 

The President of the Senate or a quarter of the senators (together with the King, the Prime Minister, the President of the National Assembly and one tenth of deputies) may refer laws to the Constitutional Council before they are promulgated. 

They may act on matters submitted to them by ordinary people.


 

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