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BOLIVIA
Cámara de Senadores (Chamber of Senators)

Modules:
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional / Plurinational Legislative Assembly
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Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Cámara de Senadores / Chamber of Senators
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Cámara de Diputados / Chamber of Deputies
Affiliation to the IPU Yes
Affiliation date(s) 1979 - 1980
1983 -
LEADERSHIP
President Eugenio Rojas Apaza (M) 
Notes 21 Jan 2014 -
Secretary General Alexander Ramírez Arispe (M) 
COMPOSITION
Members (statutory / current number) 36 / 36
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN


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Women (current number) 17 (47.22%)
Mode of designation directly elected 36
Term 5 years
Last renewal dates 6 December 2009
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CONTACT INFORMATION
Address Senado Nacional
Palacio Legislativo
Plaza Murillo
LA PAZ-BOLIVIA
(Export mailing lists)
Phone (591 2) 214 3002
Fax (591 2) 214 3006
E-mail presidencia@senado.bo
Website
http://www.senado.bo/

ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Parliament name (generic / translated) Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional / Plurinational Legislative Assembly
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Cámara de Senadores / Chamber of Senators
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Cámara de Diputados / Chamber of Deputies
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Electoral law 30 April 2002
Mode of designation directly elected 36
Constituencies 9 multi-member (4 seats each) constituencies corresponding to the country's departments.
Voting system Majority: Direct party-list majority system, with two seats awarded to the majority party (i.e., that obtaining the most votes) and one to the second-placed party in each constituency.
Vacancies arising between general elections are filled by substitutes elected at the same time as titular members of Congress or, failing this, by the "next-in-line" candidate on the same party list.
Voting is compulsory.
Voter requirements - age: 18 years
- Bolivian citizenship
CANDIDATES
Eligibility - age: 35 years
- Bolivian citizenship by birth
- fulfilment of military obligations
- literacy
- full possession of civil rights
- ineligibility: arrest, imprisonment
Incompatibilities - Government minister
- diplomat
- civil servant or employee
- military or police officer on active duty
- contractor for public works or services
- manager or administrator of a State-related company or enterprise
- certain ecclesiastics
Candidacy requirements - nomination by political parties, coalition of parties or duly-recognised civic institutions

LAST ELECTIONS

Parliament name (generic / translated) Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional / Plurinational Legislative Assembly
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Cámara de Senadores / Chamber of Senators
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Cámara de Diputados / Chamber of Deputies
BACKGROUND
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 6 December 2009
Timing and scope of renewal Early elections were held for all elective seats in the Senate following the adoption of a new Constitution in January 2009. The previous elections had been held in December 2005.
The 2009 elections were the first to be held under the new Constitution adopted in January 2009. The previous National Congress was replaced by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, comprising a 130-member Chamber of Deputies and a 36-member Senate (up from 27). A referendum was held at the same time (see note).

In the previous elections, which were held in December 2005, the Movement for Socialism (MAS) led by Mr. Evo Morales took 72 of the 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 13 of the 27 seats in the Senate. The Social and Democratic Power (PODEMOS) party took 43 seats in the Chamber and 12 in the Senate. The remaining seats went to the National Unity Front (UNF) and the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR). In the presidential elections, Mr. Morales (MAS) defeated PODEMOS candidate Jorge Quiroga, becoming the country's first indigenous president. At his swearing-in in January 2006, he pledged to "re-found Bolivia" by enacting a new constitution and retaking control of the country's natural resources.

In July 2006, the MAS won the elections to the Constituent Assembly that was established to re-write the Constitution within a year. However, the drafting process was delayed by protests. Opposition parties successfully blocked an article allowing the president to be indefinitely re-elected, arguing that it would hand a life-time presidency to Mr. Morales. The opposition further argued that the some articles of the draft constitution favoured only the country's indigenous majority. These articles were nevertheless maintained in the final draft. In November 2008, the draft constitution was finally approved by the MAS and its allies. Street protests opposing the draft turned violent, killing three people.

On 25 January 2009, Bolivians voted in a referendum on the new Constitution, which they approved by 61 per cent of the votes. The Constitution grants greater autonomy to Bolivia's nine departments and to indigenous communities, while reinforcing State control over key economic sectors. It was opposed by many Bolivians of European or mixed-race descent. On 7 February, President Morales enacted the Constitution.

The new Constitution required early presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on 6 December 2009. Mr. Morales was allowed to run since the presidential term served under the previous Constitution did not count.

In the 2009 elections, President Morales' MAS was challenged by the Plan for Progress party (PP) of former state governor and former army captain Manfred Reyes Villa and the UNF led by Mr. Samuel Doria Medina. PODEMOS leader Jorge Quiroga announced that he would not run for the presidency. The MAS needed a two-thirds majority in the new legislature to be able to revise the Constitution so as to allow President Morales to seek another term in office.

President Morales urged voters to support the MAS so that he could pursue his reforms. He campaigned on the government's record, citing subsidies for schoolchildren and the elderly and an allowance for new mothers, and pledged to continue them in his new term. A quarter of Bolivia's 10 million inhabitants benefited from the subsidies in 2009.

Despite the global economic crisis, higher prices for natural gas and minerals helped the country sustain its economic growth in 2009. Mr. Morales - who had nationalized the gas, oil, mining and telecommunication sectors - pledged to continue the reforms by nationalizing electricity firms. He also promised to develop the iron and lithium industries to help his country export value-added products instead of raw materials. He called on voters to support "change" and urged them to reject "neo-liberalism".

PP leader Reyes pledged a one time payment of US$ 1,000 to one million families and said he would maintain the subsidies introduced by Mr. Morales' administration. He also promised to reduce unemployment and to attract more foreign companies to Bolivia by giving investors more legal security. The former army captain also vowed to tackle crime by enhancing the army's role in domestic security. He argued that Mr. Morales' re election could lead to a "totalitarian regime" under which the legislature would be reduced to "a decoration". Mr. Reyes faced a threat of jail on corruption charges made in the run up to the elections. In January 2010, the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Mr. Reyes who reportedly fled to the United States.

The UNF promised to develop an organic food industry to diversify the country's economy and to promote tourism. UNF leader Doria, a wealthy businessman, pledged to invest US$ 175 million over five years to modernize the education system and to open nine universities. He vowed to ease the divisions between the indigenous community in the west and the non-indigenous community in the east.

Despite several attempts to form a coalition, opposition parties failed to unite, for the further benefit of the MAS.

In addition to the 5 million registered voters in the country, Bolivians in Argentina, Brazil, Spain and the United States were allowed to vote for the first time.

The MAS secured a majority in both chambers. It won 88 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 26 seats in the Senate. The PP followed with 37 and 10 seats respectively. The UNF took three seats in the Chamber of Deputies while the remainder went to small parties.

In the presidential elections, Mr. Morales was re-elected with over 60 per cent of the votes.

On 20 January 2010, the newly elected National Congress was convened. The Chamber of Deputies elected Mr. Héctor Arce (MAS) as its new Speaker while the Senate elected Ms. Ana María Romero (MAS) as its new President.

Note on the referendum:
Pursuant to the 2009 Constitution, voters in five new regions of the country - La Paz, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Oruro and Potosí - were asked to approve or reject their region's autonomy. Twelve municipalities voted on whether to adopt traditional indigenous rules.
STATISTICS
Voter turnout
Round no 16 December 2009
Number of registered electors
Voters
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes



Notes
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political group Candidates Votes % of votes
Movement for Socialism (MAS)
Plan for Progress (PP)
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total of seats
Movement for Socialism (MAS) 26
Plan for Progress (PP) 10
Distribution of seats according to sex
Men

Women

Percent of women
21

15

41.67%
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Comments
Source: IDEA Internacional, Bolivia (08.02.2010, 24.02.2010)

PRESIDENCY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional / Plurinational Legislative Assembly
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Cámara de Senadores / Chamber of Senators
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Cámara de Diputados / Chamber of Deputies
APPOINTMENT AND TERM OF OFFICE
Title President of the Senate
Term - duration: 1 year
- reasons for interruption of the term: resignation, death, dissolution
Appointment - elected by all the Senators
- after validation of mandates
- after Senators are sworn in
Eligibility - any Senator can be a candidate
Voting system - formal vote by secret ballot
Procedures / results - the eldest Senator presides over the Senate during the voting
STATUS
Status - ranks second in the hierarchy of State (Vice President of the Republic)
- represents the Senate with the public authorities
- represents the Senate in international bodies
- in the absence of the President, the Vice Presidents can assume his/her role and functions
Board - the Governing Board is regulated by the Standing Orders
- consists of the President, two Vice Presidents and three Secretaries
- duration: 1 year
Material facilities NA (no information received)
FUNCTIONS
Organization of parliamentary business - organizes the debates and sets speaking time
- examines the admissibility of bills and amendments
- refers texts to a committee for study
- the Board can :
* convenes sessions
* establishes and modifies the agenda
Chairing of public sittings - can open, adjourn and close sittings
- makes announcements concerning the Senate
- takes disciplinary measures in the event of disturbance, and lifts such measures
- establishes the list of speakers, gives and withdraws permission to speak
- calls for a vote, decides how it is to be carried out, verifies the voting procedure and cancels a vote in the event of irregularities
- checks the quorum
- authenticates the adopted texts and the records of debates
- has discretionary power to give the floor outside the agenda and thus organizes impromptu debates
- the Board can :
* ensures respect for provisions of the Constitution and Standing Orders
Special powers - the Board can :
* is responsible for establishing the budget
* organizes the services of Parliament
- is responsible for safety, and in this capacity, can call the police in the event of disturbance in the Senate
Speaking and voting rights, other functions - takes part in voting in the event of a tied vote or where voting is by secret ballot
- provides guidelines for the interpretation or completion of the text under discussion
- transmits laws to the Executive for promulgation

PARLIAMENTARY MANDATE

Parliament name (generic / translated) Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional / Plurinational Legislative Assembly
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Cámara de Senadores / Chamber of Senators
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Cámara de Diputados / Chamber of Deputies
NATURE
Nature of the mandate · Free representation
Start of the mandate · When the Senators take the oath
Validation of mandates · Validation by the Chamber of Senators and, in the event of challenge or the emergence of grounds for annulment, by the National Electoral Court (Art. 67, No. 1 of the Constitution of 02.02.1967, as amended up to and including 06.02.1995, Art. 196, and 247 (2) in connection with Art. 121 and 123 of the Electoral Law)
· Procedure (Art. 67, No. 1 of the Constitution, Art. 247 (4) of the Electoral Law)
End of the mandate · On the day when the legal term of the House ends (see Art. 65 in connection with Art. 60 (7) of the Constitution and Art. 127 of the Electoral Law)
Can MPs resign? Yes · Of their own free will (Art. 57 of the Constitution)
· Procedure: resignation before the President of the Chamber of Senators who informs the plenary
· Authority competent to accept the resignation: the resignation need not be accepted
Can MPs lose their mandate ? Yes (a) Definitive exclusion from Parliament by the latter: definitive removal for misconduct (Art. 67, No. 4 of the Constitution; see Code of conduct)
(b) Loss of mandate for incompatibilities (Art. 49, and 54 in connection with Art. 67, No. 4 of the Constitution; see above)
STATUS OF MEMBERS
Rank in hierarchy · Within Parliament:
1. The President
2. The Vice-Presidents (2)
3. The Secretaries (3)
4. The other Senators
· Outside Parliament:
Indemnities, facilities and services · Diplomatic or official passport
· Basic salary: BOB 20.800 + Sitting Allowance: BOB 1 per sitting
· No exemption from tax
· Private Pension Fund (AFP)
· Other facilities:
(a) Secretariat
(b) Assistants
(c) Official car for the President and the Vice-Presidents
(d) Security guards for the President and the Vice-Presidents
(e) Postal and telephone services
(f) Travel and transport
(g) Others: medical care, funeral costs
Obligation to declare personal assets Yes
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary non-accountability · The concept does exist (Art. 51 of the Constitution, Rule of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators)
· Parliamentary non-accountability applies to words spoken and written by Senators both within and outside Parliament.
· Derogations: offence or insult (Rule 47 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators, see Discipline)
· Non-accountability takes effect on the day when the mandate begins and offers, after the expiry of the mandate, protection against prosecution for opinions expressed during the exercise of the mandate.
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary inviolability · The concept does exist (Art. 52 and 53 of the Constitution).
· It applies to criminal and civil proceedings, covers all offences and protects Senators from arrest and from being held in preventive custody, from the opening of judicial proceedings against them and, in civil matters, also from the requirement to give bond.
· No derogations are foreseen.
· Parliamentary inviolability does not prevent Senators from being called as witnesses before a judge or tribunal.
· Protection is provided from the start to the end of the mandate, but for the suing and the requirement to give bond in civil matters only during a period beginning sixty days before the meeting of Congress and ending at the time the Senator returns to his residence. It (does not) also cover(s) judicial proceedings instituted against Senators before their election.
· Parliamentary immunity (inviolability) can be lifted (Art. 52 of the Constitution):
- Competent authority: the Chamber of Senators
- Procedure (Art. 52 of the Constitution, Rule 107 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators): decision by a two-thirds vote. In this case, Senators can(not) be heard. They do (not) have means of appeal.

EXERCISE OF THE MANDATE
Training · There is neither a training/initiation process on parliamentary practices and procedures for Senators, nor a handbook of parliamentary procedure.
Participation in the work of the Parliament · Penalties foreseen in case of lack of quorum (Rule 33 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators): publication of the names of those absent
· Body competent to judge such cases/to impose penalties:
Discipline · The rules governing discipline within Parliament are contained in Rule 47 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators.
· Disciplinary measures foreseen:
- Interruption (Rule 47 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators)
- Call to order (Rule 47 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators)
- Withdrawal of the floor for the rest of the debate (Rule 47 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators)
· Specific cases:
- Offence or insult (Rule 47 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators): all disciplinary measures
· Competent body to judge such cases/to impose penalties:
- Interruption, offence or insult: any Senator
- Call to order, withdrawal of the floor for the rest of the debate, offence or insult: the President, after a decision of the Chamber of Senators
· Procedure (Rule 47 of the Rules of Debate of the Chamber of Senators)
Code (rules) of conduct · This concept does not exist in the country's juridical system but there are some relevant provisions (Art. 49, 54, and 67, No. 4 of the Constitution).
· Penalties foreseen for violation of the rules of conduct:
- Temporary removal (Art. 67, No. 4 of the Constitution; misconduct)
- Definitive removal (Art. 67, No. 4 of the Constitution; misconduct)
- Loss of mandate (Art. 49, and 54 in connection with Art. 67, No. 4 of the Constitution; incompatibilities)
· Competent body to judge such cases/to impose penalties: the Chamber of Senators
· Procedure (Art. 67, No. 4 of the Constitution). In this case, Senators have (no) means of recourse.
Relations between MPs and pressure group · There are no legal provisions in this field.

This page was last updated on 22 January 2014
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