YUGOSLAVIA : THE CHAMBER OF REPUBLICS
The constitutional charter of the new State of Serbia and Montenegro was proclaimed by the outgoing Yougoslav Parliament on 4 February 2003.
Among common institutions, it shall establish a one-chamber Parliament. Indirect elections by the Parliaments of Serbia and Montenegro were held on 25 February 2003 to elect the 126 members of the new Parliament (91 representatives for Serbia and 35 for Montenegro).
The new Parliament was officially established on 3 March 2003.
I - COMPOSITION
40 members, elected by direct suffrage (since the constitutional revision in July 2000. Before that date, elections were held by indirect suffrage : members of the Chamber of Republics used to be elected by the republican assemblies of Serbia and Montenegro on the basis of the representation of parties in these bodies, within a period of 30 days following the elections ot the Chamber of citizens. They used to represent the Yugoslavian republic that had elected them).
in the proportion of 20 members for each of the two Republics of the Federation : 20 from Serbia and 20 from Montenegro.
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
10 constituencies (9 in Serbia and 1 in Montenegro)
The members of the Chamber of Republics were elected by the Republican Assemblies of Serbia and Montenegro on the basis of the representation of the parties within these institutions, within 30 days of the elections for the Chamber of Citizens. They represented the Republic within Yugoslavia for which they have been elected.
Duration of the mandate: 4 years. The mandate of the Federal Assembly (composed of the Chamber of Citizens and the Chamber of Republics) shall be terminated if, three months after institution of the electoral procedure, a Federal Government has not been elected or, within this time period, the Federal Budget has not been approved. Elections must then be held within 60 days.
Most recent elections: took place on 20 and 24 september 2000.
Eligibility for election: minimum age 18 years; Yugoslavian citizenship; residency in Yugoslavia.
Incompatibility with other office: duties within the Federal Governments are not compatible with membership of the Chamber of Republics.
N.B. - Method of election :
In 1998, the Montenegro Parliament voted a law in favour of a majority voting system which was then declared unconstitutional by a decision of the Constitutional Court taken in an emergency hearing.
On April 11 2000, the Serbian Parliament voted a new electoral law in favour of proportional voting, with two additional measures :
1 - The president of the Serbian Parliament has discretionary power to decide the number of deputies elected from each parliementary group ;
2 - A party not participating in the election may not have its representatives elected to the Federal Parliament.
III - SESSIONS OF THE ASSEMBLY
A - ORDINARY SESSIONS
The Chamber of Republics meets, without convocation, twice a year, in accordance with its rules of procedure.
The first session begins on the first weekday of February, and the second on the first weekday of September.
B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
Extraordinary sessions may take place at the request of at least one-third of the Members of the Chamber, or at the request of the Federal Government, according to a predetermined agenda.
IV - RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE
A - LEGISLATIVE POWERS
1) Legislative initiative
The Chamber of Republics has the power to initiate legislation (concurrently with the Chamber of Citizens, the Federal Government or at least 30,000 citizens).
The National Bank of Yugoslavia can also table a Federal bill, on areas related to monetary policy, [foreign] exchange or credit systems.
2) Right of amendment
The Chamber has this right.
3) Legislative procedure
a) Ordinary procedure
When a bill concerning a Federal issue, another law or a general legislative text has not been passed by the two chambers in identical form, the chambers will set up a commission of five members from each chamber to harmonise the text. The two chambers will then vote on the draft bill produced by the commission.
If the commission fails to harmonise the text within one month, or if the chambers reject the revised bill, the text originally passed by the chamber of Citizens shall be temporarily adopted; but if this text concerns specific economic, fiscal, technological or environmental issues, then the text passed by the Chamber of Republics shall be provisionally implemented.
The Federal law which has been provisionally implemented will only come into effect when it has been adopted by both chambers, at the latest within one year after the commencement of its implementation. If it is not adopted during the period of its provisional implementation, the mandate of the Federal Assembly shall be terminated.
b) Specific Provisions with regard to budgetary matters.
If the Federal Budget is not adopted at the beginning of the fiscal year, budgetary expenditure shall operate on the basis of the previous year's Budget, until the current Budget is approved.
B - POWER OF SUPERVISION
1) Inauguration of the Government
The candidate nominated by the President of the Republic as Prime Minister presents his programme and the composition of his Government to the Federal Assembly.
A Government shall be considered to be formed when the Federal Assembly elects the Prime Minister by majority vote of all the parliamentary representatives in each of the two chambers.
2) Responsibility of the Prime Minister to the Federal Assembly.
The Prime Minister may request a vote of confidence in his Government by the Assembly. If the vote then goes against the Government, the Government must resign.
3) Motion of Censure
The Federal Assembly may censure the Government. The motion of censure must be proposed by at least 30 members of one of the two chambers.
The vote must take place at least 3 days after the motion of censure has been proposed. Adoption of the motion requires a majority of the total number of members of each chamber.
Adoption of the motion means that the Government must resign.
C - DISSOLUTION AND PROROGATION
The Federal Assembly may be dissolved by decree of the President of the Republic, at the request of the Federal Government.
The Federal Assembly may not be dissolved after a vote of confidence procedure has been instigated.
Elections must be held within 60 days of dissolution.
The functions of the Federal Government shall cease upon dissolution (or upon curtailment of the mandate) of the Federal Assembly.
The Federal Assembly cannot be dissolved during the first month or the last six months of its legislature, or when the country is in a state of war, when there is an imminent threat of war, or when there is a state of emergency.
When the country is in a state of war, when there is an imminent threat of war, or when there is a state of emergency, the Federal Assembly can decide to prorogue [extend] the mandate of the Federal Parliamentary Representatives, for as long as these circumstances last, or until such time as conditions for holding elections are reinstated.
V - SPECIFIC PROVISIONS
A - MODIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION
The initiative for modification of the Constitution will result from a proposal put forward by at least 20 members of the Chamber of Republics, concurrently with at least 30 members of the Chamber of Citizens, the Federal Government and at least 100,000 voters, in the case of modifications other than those relating to the principles and structures governing the Federation, its jurisdiction and the provisions relating to the procedure for modification of the Constitution, since the Chamber of Republics is excluded from the procedure for modifying these provisions.
The procedure for modification must be decided, and the proposal adopted, by the Federal Assembly on the basis of a 2/3 majority of the members of each chamber.
If the proposal is rejected, it may not be tabled again within one year.
B - THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHAMBER OF REPUBLICS
1) The President is elected for 4 years by the members of the Chamber.
2) Absence of the Head of State
If a termination of, or a break in the Presidential mandate occurs, and until such time as a new President is elected, or if the President is temporarily incapacitated, his duties will be assumed by the President of the Chamber of Republics.
C - THE PRESIDENTS OF THE TWO CHAMBERS will alternate in presiding over joint sessions of the Chambers.
D - THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
1) The President of the Republic is elected by the Federal Assembly for a term of four years.
2) He may be dismissed from his post only in the case of a violation of the Constitution established by the Federal Assembly.
E - NOMINATIONS
The Federal Assembly nominates and dismisses:
§ the judges of the Federal Court (for a mandate of 9 years) ;
§ the Federal Public Prosecutor (for a mandate of 4 years).