THE SENATE OF MADAGASCAR
Law n° 98-001, dated 8 April 1998, on revision of the Constitution, provides for the creation of a Senate.
The ordinance dated December 28th, 2000 on the organic law in respect of the Senate, and the decree dated January 8th, 2001, have provided for the setting up of this Senate.
The essential responsibility of the Senate is to represent the autonomous provinces.
It also has been designed as an advisory body for the Government on economic, social and territorial issues.
I - COMPOSITION
90 Senators, of whom :
60 elected, ten from each of the six autonomous provinces ;
30 appointed by the Head of State on the basis of their special expertise in legal, economic, social or cultural matters.
II - ELECTORAL AND APPOINTMENT SYSTEM
A - ELECTED SENATORS
Each autonomous province elects senators.
Electoral college :
Composed of the provincial councillors, elected by direct universal suffrage, and mayors of the provinces they will represent.
Voting system :
Proportional voting for a list, with the highest average, with no list grouping, no votes for candidates on different lists, and no preferential voting.
The term of office of senators is 6 years.
First election : 18th March 2001.
Eligibility conditions :
- minimum age for eligibility: 40 years ;
- to be registered on the electoral lists ;
- to reside in the territory of the Republic when declaring candidacy ;
- to be in order with tax legislation and regulation and to have paid all payable taxes of any kind for the past three years.
The function of a senator is not compatible with the exercise of any other publicly elected function and any civil service employment excepting teaching and holding a ministerial post.
B - APPOINTED SENATORS
Their appointment shall take place within 21 days after the results of the senatorial election have been officially announced.
Last appointment : july 2002
III - ORGANISATION OF SESSIONS
The Senate shall meet as of right during the sessions of the National Assembly. It may also meet at a special session.
When the National Assembly is not in session, the Senate shall be allowed to debate only on questions on which it has been asked to give advice by the Government, except on draft bills.
A - ORDINARY SESSIONS
Two ordinary sessions per year.
The duration of each session shall neither be less than sixty days, nor more than ninety days.
The first session shall begin on the first Tuesday of May and the second on the last Tuesday of September.
B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
They shall take place on the basis of a determined agenda, through an ordinance of the President of the Republic taken during the Council of Ministers, either on the initiative of the President of the Republic, or upon request of the absolute majority of the deputies.
The duration of the session shall not exceed twelve days. Nevertheless, a closing ordinance shall come into force as soon as the National Assembly has dealt with all the points on the agenda for which it has been convened.
The President of the Republic may take the initiative alone to convene another extraordinary session within one month after the closing of the previous session.
C - SPECIAL SESSIONS
The Government shall convene special sessions.
The agenda shall be limited and fixed by a convening ordinance, adopted during the Council of Ministers.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND EXECUTIVE
A - LEGISLATIVE POWER
1) Legislative initiative
Yes, the Prime Minister, together with senators and deputies, has the right to propose legislation.
However, draft laws shall not be admissible if adoption would result either in a reduction in public resources, or an increase in a public charge, except for finance bills.
2) Right of amendment
Yes, together with the deputies.
However, amendments shall not be admissible if adoption would result either in a reduction in public resources, or an increase in a public charge, except for finance bills.
3) Legislative procedure
Draft laws shall be tabled before the Bureau of either assembly except for draft finance bills, which shall be tabled before the Bureau of the National Assembly.
a) Ordinary procedure
Private bills and amendments shall be submitted to the Government. To express its observations, the Government has thirty days for private member's bills, and fifteen days for amendments. When the deadline expires, the assembly shall examine the private bills or the amendments with a view to adopting them.
Government or private bills shall be sent for examination to the committee concerned before being discussed in public.
Once it has been examined by the depository assembly in which they have been lodged, Government or private bills shall be sent to the other assembly. The debate shall take place in turn in each assembly until the adoption of identically worded versions.
When, in the event of disagreement between the two assemblies, a Government or private bill has not been adopted after two readings by each assembly or, if the Government has stated that the matter is urgent, after one reading, the Prime Minister may call a meeting of a joint committee; this committee has the task of producing a text on the provisions that remain under discussion. The text elaborated by the joint committee may be submitted by the Government to the two assemblies for their approval. No amendment shall be admissible except with the Government's agreement.
If the committee fails to adopt a common text or if the text is not adopted under the conditions laid down in the previous article, the National Assembly shall definitely give a ruling with the absolute majority of its members.
If during the legislative procedure, it turns out that a private bill or an amendment may not be a legal question, the Government may declare it inadmissible. In the event of disagreement between the Government and the National Assembly or the Senate, the High Constitutional Court shall give a ruling within eight days, upon request of the Prime Minister or the president of either assembly.
Before the end of the promulgation deadline - 3 weeks - the President of the Republic may ask the Parliament for another examination of the bill or part of it. The Parliament may not refuse to do so.
Ordinary bills may be submitted to the High Constitutional Court before promulgation, notably by the President of the Senate or by Œ of the senators.
b) Special measures relating to finance bills
The Parliament shall have sixty days to examine the draft finance bill.
If the National assembly does not reach a decision within thirty days of the bill being introduced, it shall be supposed to have been adopted and the draft shall be sent to the Senate.
The Senate has fifteen days after the bill has been sent for the first reading and each assembly has five days for each of the following readings.
If one assembly does not reach a decision on a bill within the fixed deadline, it shall be supposed to have been accepted.
If the Parliament has not adopted the draft finance bill before the end of the second session, the provisions of the draft law may be brought into force by ordinance, while including one or several amendments adopted by both assemblies.
Any amendment entailing an increase in public expenditure or a decrease in public resources shall propose at the same time an equivalent increase in revenue or savings.
c) Special measures relating to organic laws
A Government or private organic law may not be examined and voted on in the first assembly which has been referred to for fifteen days after it has been lodged.
The bill may pass with an absolute majority of the members of each assembly.
In the event of disagreement between the two assemblies after two readings, the National Assembly shall give a definite ruling with a 2/3 majority of its members.
If the National Assembly has not adopted the draft organic law before the end of the session, its provisions may be brought into force by ordinance, while including, if the case arises, one or several amendments adopted by both assemblies.
Organic laws relating to the Senate and to the interprovincial Conference may be voted on by both assemblies in identical terms.
Organic laws may be promulgated only after being declared in conformity with the Constitution by the High Constitutional Court.
d) Vote of confidence on the passing of a bill
The Government may involve its responsibility in a vote of confidence by demanding that both assemblies express themselves by a single vote on all, or part of the provisions of the bills being discussed:
- during extraordinary sessions, under the condition that these texts have been lodged forty-eight hours after the opening of the session;
- during the last eight days of each ordinary session.
But the Government shall resign only if it is defeated by the absolute majority of the National Assembly members.
e) Enabling legislation
By voting with the absolute majority of the members of each assembly, the Parliament may authorise the President of the Republic, for a limited period and on a special matter, to issue an ordinance covering legislative measures, during the Council of Ministers.
Ordinances shall come into force as soon as they are published, but they shall be declared null and void if the draft ratification law is not presented to the National Assembly by the date fixed by the Enabling Law.
B - SUPERVISORY POWERS
1) The means of information that the Senate may use are: the oral question, the written question, the questioning and the commission of enquiry.
a) During the ordinary session, at least one sitting a month is given over to questions as a priority.
b) Commissions of inquiry shall be in charge of collecting information on given facts and submitting their conclusions to the Bureau.
They shall be created by the Senate through the vote of a resolution presented by at least five senators.
A commission of inquiry may not be created for facts already been investigated and as long as the investigation is being carried out nor for facts on which judgement has already been delivered.
If a commission has already been created, its mission shall end with the start of a preliminary investigation relating to the facts which have caused its creation.
Commissions of inquiry may not be set up again with the same objective for a period of twelve months after the end of their mission.
2) The ratification or the approval of alliance and commerce treaties, of peace treaties, of treaties or agreements relating to the international organisation, of those involving public finances, modifying law provisions, modifying the territory, or those relating to the state of people, shall be legal.
C - ADVISORY POWER
The Government may seek advice from the Senate on economic and social issues as well as territorial organisation issues.
D - RELATIONS WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
The President of the Republic may communicate with the Parliament by means of messages which do not give rise to any discussion.
IV - SPECIAL PROVISIONS
A - AUTONOMOUS PROVINCES
1) Senators will be members as of right of the provincial councils, and shall be empowered to vote therein (unlike deputies).
2) People found guilty may be dismissed from their duties by the President of the Republic after a joint committee of senators and deputies has been consulted.
3) The President of the Senate (as well as the President of the National Assembly) or his deputy shall attend as of right the interprovincial Conference, convened in order to discuss issues of common interest between the central power and one or several autonomous provinces, or between two or more autonomous provinces.
B - INTERIM FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
1) In the event of the interim for the President of the Republic because of resignation, death, impeachment or deposition, the duties of the Head of State shall be temporarily carried out by the President of the Senate.
2) Temporary incapacity
It may be declared by the High Constitutional Court after the Parliament ruled through a separate vote of each assembly with a 2/3 majority of its members because of physical or mental incapacity to carry out his duties, which shall be proved.
It may not go beyond a period of six months, after which the High Constitutional Court, in the same conditions, may decide on the transformation of the temporary incapacity into a permanent incapacity.
C - JUDISDICTIONAL POWERS
1) The High Court of Justice shall comprise two incumbent senators and two deputy senators elected by the Senate.
2) The President of the Republic may be indicted before the High Court of Justice only by the two assemblies ruling through a separate vote, by public ballot and with a 2/3 majority of the members of each assembly, for actions accomplished in the exercise or caused by the exercise of his duties, only in the event of high treason, or serious and repeated violation of the Constitution.
D - THE HIGH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
1) Two from amongst the members of the High Constitutional Court shall be appointed by the Senate.
2) The President of the Senate, or Œ of the senators, may submit to the High Constitutional Court any text about law or regulation as well as any field for which it is competent to assess its conformity with the Constitution.
3) The President of the Senate may consult the High Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of any draft or on the interpretation of a constitutional provision.
E - CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Both parliamentary assemblies shall have the right to move constitutional amendments, together with the President of the Republic. They rule on it through a separate vote requiring the absolute majority of the members of each assembly.
The amendment - private or public - shall be adopted with at least a Ÿ majority of the members of the National Assembly and the Senate.