What Type Of Government Does Syria Have?

The flag of Syria.
The flag of Syria.

History Of The Government Of Syria

Between the years of 1936 and 1946, Syria negotiated, demanded, and planned for its independence from France. From 1946 through the 1960’s, the country experienced political unrest and several successful military coups. During this time, the government was changed to a wide range of systems, everything from multi-partyism to nationalism. Since in 1961, the country has been ruled by the Syrian Ba’ath party and has experienced decades of international conflict and internal violence. Since 1971 till his death in 2000, Hafez al-Assad was the Ba’ath Party President of the country. Upon the death of Hafez, his son, Bashar, ran for the presidency with no political opponents. He continues to be President today.

Current Government Of Syria

Syria is considered a unitary republic with a semi-presidential style of government. However, the controlling parties practice a highly authoritarian regime with most of the political power in the hands of the al-Assad family. The President appoints members to the Council of Ministers, issues laws, amends the Constitution, declares war, and approves government 5-year plans. As per the Constitution, the President serves a 7-year term and may be re-elected one additional time. In addition to the office of the President, the government also consists of the People’s Council and the Council of Ministers. The government is divided into the three branches of executive, legislative, and judicial.

Executive Body Of The Government Of Syria

The Council of Ministers represents the executive body of the government. It is made up of the Prime Minister, deputies, and ministers. In 2011, the entire Council resigned, and the President appointed new members. The Prime Minister is the official head of government. It is the responsibility of the executive branch to administer the law as dictated by the legislative branch.

Legislative Branch Of The Government Of Syria

The legislative body of the Syrian government is the People’s Council. This department consists of 250 members. These members are elected to serve 4-year terms. The two main political parties represented by the People’s Council are the National Progressive Front and the Popular Front for Change and Liberation. The year 2012 marked the first time the members were made up of more than one political party.

Judiciary Of Syria

The judicial branch of Syria is made up of several types of courts including civil, criminal, military, security, and religious. Religious courts handle family law, such as divorce cases. The legal codes are mainly based on French law. This branch is overseen by the High Judicial Council which is made up of the President and senior civil judges. Together, they appoint and dismiss judges of lower courts. The highest court in Syria is the Court of Cassation which rules on judicial issues. The High Constitutional Court decides on questions about the constitutionality of laws, bills, and regulations.

Constitution of 2012

The Constitution provides the basic outline for government functions and places great emphasis on pan-Arab nationalism. As a result of the Civil War of 2011 to 2012, the Constitution was amended. The new Constitution requires the President to be Muslim but does not define a state religion. It also removed the article that once gave the Ba’ath party total political control. The new amendment states that the government is based on pluralism and that decisions can only be made based on democratically voting. In addition, the new Constitution limits presidential terms to 7 years with a 2-term limit.


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