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Colombia's Political System

Like the U.S. system of government, Colombia’s political structure is divided into executive, judicial and legislative branches of government, with the latter, like the U.S. system, divided into a Senate and a House of Representatives. Senators are elected via a national ballot, while representatives are elected by their local constituents. Congress convenes twice annually, and the president can summon a special session when necessary. However, unlike the U.S. system, the Colombian president is chosen directly by the electorate, without the intervention of an electoral college. He then serves as both head of state and head of government, overseeing a multi-party representative democracy. The president serves for four years and may only be elected for two terms.

There are two high courts in Colombia that serve separate functions: the Constitutional court, which as its name indicates, interprets the Constitution and monitors observance of laws, and then there is the Supreme Court, consisting of 23 judges who are appointed by the legislature for eight-year terms. This court is divided into three chambers: a civil-agrarian, a labor and a penal.

The Constitution was reformed in 1991 to allow for greater civil liberties, such as divorce and dual citizenship, and most importantly, the right to request a tribunal if a citizen can provide evidence that his or her constitutional rights are not being honored. In 2004, Article 197 of the Constitution was amended to allow presidents to serve two terms, and not just one.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Colombia: Environmental Issues in Colombia, Colombia's Economy: Past and Present, Colombia's Economy, Colombia's Current Political Situation and Colombia's Social Issues.

26 Sep 2011

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