Honduras is a Central American and Caribbean country that became independent from Spain in 1821. The Republic of Honduras is a representative democracy whose head of state and government is the president. The constitution of Honduras is the supreme legal document that establishes the government as a multi-party system with the dominant parties being the National Party of Honduras and the Liberal Party of Honduras. The government is structured into three branches, which include the executive, legislature, and an independent judiciary.
The Constitution of Honduras
The current constitution was published in 1982. The constitution defines the responsibilities of various government branches and their powers. While the constitution may be amended, eight un-amendable articles are set aside that cannot be changed with dire consequences to those who attempt to amend them. Such articles include the restriction of the presidential term to one four-year term, which is not renewable. Attempts to change the constitution led to the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis and the ousting and exile of President Manuel Zelaya. The restriction on the presidential term was established to prevent the occurrence of a despotic regime. The constitution establishes the Superior Electoral Tribunal as the independent electoral supervisory body. All citizens above the age of 18 are eligible for voting.
The executive of Honduras consists of the president, the vice president, and the cabinet. The president is elected by a simple majority vote for a four-year term and serves as the head of the executive. The president has some duties according to the constitution including appointing and dismissing cabinet members, enforcing the constitution, maintaining the security of the country and safeguarding Honduras from both internal and external attacks, introducing bills to Congress, directing foreign policy, and appointing diplomatic representatives. The president is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Legislative duties in Honduras are carried out through the National Congress of Honduras. The unicameral congress consists of 128 members who are elected by proportional representation to serve for a four-year term. Among the duties and responsibilities of the Congress include legislation, electing some top officials of the judiciary, and approving presidential appointees. The legislature also has the power to impeach the president and other government officials, to check the conduct of the judiciary and executive in matters of administration and to approve or disapprove policies by the president concerning foreign military operations.
Honduras judicial is based on a civil law system. The judiciary is the legal body that exists independently from the executive and legislature. The Supreme Court is the highest legal court with civil, criminal, labor, and constitutional chambers. The Supreme Court has 15 principal judges, including the court president. The Supreme Court has both the constitutional and judicial jurisdiction. The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the National Congress to serve for seven-year terms. The president of the supreme court is elected by his peers.The Supreme Court appoints members of the lower courts, tries government officials and assesses the constitutional laws. Subordinate courts include the Court of Appeal, the court of the first instance, and peace courts.