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GUATEMALA
Congreso de la República (Congress of the Republic)

This page contains the full text of the PARLINE database entry on the selected parliamentary chamber, with the exception of Oversight and Specialized bodies modules which, because of their excessive length, can be only viewed and printed separately.

Modules:
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Congreso de la República / Congress of the Republic
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Structure of parliament Unicameral
Affiliation to the IPU Yes
Affiliation date(s) 1961 - 1963
1979 - 1982
1986 -
LEADERSHIP
President Oscar Stuardo Chinchilla Guzmán (M) 
Notes 14.01.2017 - 14.01.2018
Secretary General Luis Eduardo López (M) 
COMPOSITION
Members (statutory / current number) 158 / 158
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN


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Women (current number) 22 (13.92%)
Mode of designation directly elected 158
Term 4 years
Last renewal dates 6 September 2015
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CONTACT INFORMATION
Address Congreso de la República
9a Av. 9-44, Zona 1
GUATEMALA CITY
(Export mailing lists)
Phone (502) 2387 4000
Fax (502) 2220 4024
E-mail presidencia@congreso.gob.gt
dirprotocolo@congreso.gob.gt
Website
http://www.congreso.gob.gt

ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Parliament name (generic / translated) Congreso de la República / Congress of the Republic
Structure of parliament Unicameral
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Electoral law 27 December 1985
Mode of designation directly elected 158
Constituencies - 22 multi-member constituencies corresponding to the country's departments
- 1 multi-member (31 seats) national constituency
Voting system Mixed: Mixed system, with closed party lists:
- majority vote for 127 departmental seats
- proportional representation (d'Hondt method) from a national list for 31 seats
Vacancies arising between general elections are filled by substitutes elected at the same time as titular members.
Voting is not compulsory.
Voter requirements - age: 18 years
- Guatemalan citizenship
- full possession of civil and political rights
- disqualifications: membership of the armed and police forces, imprisonment
CANDIDATES
Eligibility Qualified electors
- literacy
- ineligibility: close relatives of the President and Vice-President of the Republic, conviction for crime
Incompatibilities - civil servants
- holders of certain public functions
- members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal or Audit Office
- government contractors
Candidacy requirements - nomination by a legally registered party; in order to secure their legal status, nominating parties must obtain at least 4% of the popular vote

LAST ELECTIONS

Parliament name (generic / translated) Congreso de la República / Congress of the Republic
Structure of parliament Unicameral
BACKGROUND
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 6 September 2015
Timing and scope of renewal As in the previous elections, no party won an outright majority in the 158-member Congress of the Republic. According to unofficial results, Democratic Renewed Liberty (LIDER), led by Mr. Manuel Baldizon, came first, taking 45 seats. Mr. Baldizon had previously lost to Mr. Otto Perez Molina in a presidential run-off ballot in 2011. LIDER then went on to support President Molina in 2011–2015 legislature. National Unity of Hope (UNE), led by Ms. Sandra Torres Casanova (ex-wife of former President Álvaro Colom), followed with 32 seats. Three other parties took more than ten seats: Everyone Together for Guatemala (TODOS), led by former President of the central bank of Guatemala, Lizardo Sosa; the Patriotic Party (PP), established by Mr. Molina in 2001; and the National Convergence Front (FCN NACION), led by former actor Jimmy Morales. During the election campaigning, many candidates promised measures to tackle corruption and crime, and to take action on tax reform.

The 2015 elections followed the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina on 3 September over a corruption scandal. Vice-President Alejandro Maldonado was sworn in as the new President later on the same day to serve out the rest of Mr. Molina's term. The 79-year-old former Constitutional Court judge had become Vice-President in May 2015 when the then Vice-President, Roxana Baldetti, resigned due to the same scandal. Ms. Baldetti has been in custody since that time and maintains her innocence. On 17 September, Mr. Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria was sworn in as the new Vice-President.

In the presidential elections, held in parallel with parliamentary elections, no candidate secured the required majority. In the run-off ballot held on 25 October, Mr. Morales defeated Ms. Torres. Mr. Maldonado is due to hand over power to the new President on 14 January 2016.
Date of previous elections: 11 September 2011

Timing of election: Upon normal expiry

Expected date of next elections: September 2019

Number of seats at stake: 158 (full renewal)

Number of candidates: Not available.

Percentage of women candidates: Not available.

Number of parties contesting the election: 17

Number of parties winning seats: 13

Alternation of power: Yes
STATISTICS
Voter turnout
Round no 16 September 2015
Number of registered electors
Voters
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
7'556'873
5'375'103 (71.13%)

Notes
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political group Candidates Votes % of votes
Democratic Renewed Liberty (LIDER)
National Unity for Hope Party (UNE)
All together for Guatemala (TODOS)
Patriotic Party (PP)
National Convergence Front (FCN NACION)
Encounter for Guatemala (EG)
Nationalist Change Union (UCN)
Commitment, Renewal and Order (CREO) - Unionist Party (UNIONISTA)
Vision with Values (VIVA)
Convergence
National Advancement Party (PAN)
Force (FUERZA)
WINAQ- Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG)
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total of seats
Democratic Renewed Liberty (LIDER) 45
National Unity for Hope Party (UNE) 32
All together for Guatemala (TODOS) 18
Patriotic Party (PP) 18
National Convergence Front (FCN NACION) 11
Encounter for Guatemala (EG) 7
Nationalist Change Union (UCN) 7
Commitment, Renewal and Order (CREO) - Unionist Party (UNIONISTA) 5
Vision with Values (VIVA) 5
Convergence 3
National Advancement Party (PAN) 3
Force (FUERZA) 2
WINAQ- Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) 2
Distribution of seats according to sex
Men

Women

Percent of women
136

22

13.92%
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Comments
Sources:
Congress of the Republic (01.12.2015)
http://resultados2015.tse.org.gt/resultados-2015/
http://www.ifes.org
http://www.bbc.com/
http://www.nytimes.com

PRESIDENCY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Congreso de la República / Congress of the Republic
Structure of parliament Unicameral
APPOINTMENT AND TERM OF OFFICE
Title President of the Congress of the Republic
Term - duration: 1 year (until 30 November each year, term of session); elected in February 1998
- reasons for interruption of the term: death - resignation, dissolution of the Congress
- in the period between dissolution and the election of a new Congress, the Permanent Commission assumes the duties and functions of the President
Appointment - elected by all the Members of the Congress
- election is held at the beginning of each annual session or in any ordinary session convened for this purpose
- before Members' mandates are validated and before they are sworn in
Eligibility - any Deputy may be a candidate provided that he/she announces his/her candidature at the beginning of the annual session
Voting system - formal vote by public ballot
- absolute majority (2/3) of Members is required
- if the required majority is not obtained, several rounds may be held. The second and subsequent rounds are held between the 2 candidates having received the greatest number of votes
Procedures / results - the former President presides over the Congress during the voting
- the former President supervises the voting
- the Board of Directors' Secretary announces the results without any delay
- the results cannot be challenged
STATUS
Status - represents the Congress with the public authorities
- represents the Congress in international bodies and may delegate his/her powers to a Deputy
- in the absence of the Speaker, one of the three Vice-Presidents can assume his/her role and functions
Board - the Board of Directors is regulated by the Standing Orders
- consists of the President of the Congress, the three Vice-Presidents and Clerks, elected for 1 year
- meets whenever necessary
- assists and advises the President
Material facilities - salary
FUNCTIONS
Organization of parliamentary business - convenes sessions
- establishes and modifies the agenda
- organizes the debates and sets speaking time
- examines the admissibility of bills and amendments
- refers texts to a committee for study
- examines the admissibility of request for setting up committees and/or committees of enquiry, proposes or decides on the setting up of such committees
- appoints committees and/or their presiding officers
Chairing of public sittings - can open, adjourn and close sittings
- ensures respect for provisions of the Constitution and Standing Orders
- makes announcements concerning the Congress
- takes disciplinary measures in the event of disturbance, and lifts such measures
- establishes the list of speakers, gives and withdraws permission to speak
- establishes the order in which amendments are taken up and selects which amendments are to be debated
- 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
- interprets the rules or other regulations governing the life of the Congress
- has discretionary power to give the floor outside the agenda and thus organizes impromptu debates
Special powers - watches over the Congress' budget execution
- authorizes expenses and informs the Congress accordingly
- recruits, assigns and promotes staff
- plays a specific role in the conduct of foreign affairs or defence matters
- is responsible for relations with foreign Parliaments
- is responsible for safety, and in this capacity, can call the police in the event of disturbance in the Congress
Speaking and voting rights, other functions - takes the floor in legislative debates
- provides guidelines for the interpretation or completion of the text under discussion
- takes part in voting
- proposes bills or amendments
- intervenes in the parliamentary oversight procedure

PARLIAMENTARY MANDATE

Parliament name (generic / translated) Congreso de la República / Congress of the Republic
Structure of parliament Unicameral
NATURE
Nature of the mandate · Free representation
Start of the mandate · When the MPs take the oath (Art. 58 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ; see also Art. 59 and 165 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
Validation of mandates · Validation by the Congress (Art. 170 (a) of the Constitution of 31.05.1985, as amended on 17.11.1993; for eligibility and incompatibilities, see Art. 162, 164, and 170 (d) of the Constitution and Loss of mandate for incompatibilities)
End of the mandate · On the day when the newly elected Parliament meets
Can MPs resign? Yes · Yes, of their own free will (Art. 60 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
· Procedure (Art. 170 (c) and (d) of the Constitution, Art. 60 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
· Authority competent to accept the resignation: the Congress
Can MPs lose their mandate ? Yes Definitive exclusion from Parliament by the latter:
- Failure to attend plenary sittings (Art. 157 (3) and 170 (d) of the Constitution, Art. 66 (4) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Judicial decision: firm condemnatory sentence (Art. 161 (b) (4) of the Constitution, Art. 61 (1), (3) and (4) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Loss of mandate for incompatibilities (Art. 164 of the Constitution, Art. 61 (2) to (4) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
STATUS OF MEMBERS
Rank in hierarchy
Indemnities, facilities and services · Official passport
· Basic salary (see also Art. 55 (b) and 56 (1) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ): $ 3,000 per month
· No exemption from tax
· Pension scheme
· Other facilities:
(a) Assistants (Art. 55 (d) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ, see also Art. 153 to 163 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
(b) Travel and transport if on official business of the Congress
Obligation to declare personal assets No
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary non-accountability · The concept does exist (Art. 161 (b) of the Constitution, Art. 54 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ).
· Parliamentary non-accountability applies to words spoken and written by MPs both within and outside Parliament.
· Derogations: arbitrariness, excess of personal initiative, action tending to undermine the principle of no re-election for the exercise of the Presidency of the Republic (Art. 161 (b) of the Constitution), offence or insult (Art. 83 (e) and (f), 87, and 88 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ; see Discipline)
· Non-accountability takes effect on the day when the deputy is declared elected. It does not offer, 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. 161 (a) and (b) (4) of the Constitution, Art. 54 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ).
· It applies only to criminal proceedings, covers all offences and protects MPs from arrest and from being held in preventive custody, and from the opening of judicial proceedings against them. It does not protect them from their homes being searched.
· Derogations: in case of flagrante delicto, the MP is immediately placed at the disposition of the Bureau or the Permanent Commission of the Congress for the purpose of the corresponding initial judgement (antejuicio, Art. 161 (a) of the Constitution, Art. 135 to 138 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ).
· Parliamentary inviolability does not prevent MPs from being called as witnesses before a judge or tribunal.
· Protection is provided from the day when the deputy has been declared elected to the end of the mandate. It does not cover judicial proceedings instituted against MPs before their election but a candidate cannot be sworn in if criminal judicial proceedings are pending against him.
· Parliamentary immunity (inviolability) can be lifted (Art. 161 (a) of the Constitution):
- Competent authority: the Supreme Court
- Procedure. In this case, MPs must be heard. They have means of appeal.
· Parliament cannot subject the prosecution and/or detention to certain conditions.
· Parliament cannot suspend the prosecution and/or detention of one of its members.
· In the event of preventive custody or imprisonment, the MPs concerned cannot be authorised to attend sittings of Parliament.
EXERCISE OF THE MANDATE
Training · There is occasionally a training/initiation process on parliamentary practices and procedures for MPs.
· It is provided by national or international organisations.
· There is no handbook of parliamentary procedure.
Participation in the work of the Parliament · It is compulsory for MPs to be present at plenary sittings, committee meetings and other meetings (Art. 62 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ; for excuses and leave, see Art. 63 to 65 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ).
· Penalties foreseen in case of failure to fulfil this obligation (Art. 157 (3) and 170 (d) of the Constitution, Art. 66 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ): deduction of indemnities, written admonition, private call to attention, further sanctions, loss of mandate
· Body competent to judge such cases/to apply the penalties: the Board, the Committee on Rules of Procedures, the Congress
Discipline · The rules governing discipline within Parliament are contained in Art. 83 (d) to (g), and 86 to 88 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ.
· Disciplinary measures foreseen:
- Warning (Art. 83 (d) and (e) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Call to order (Art. 83 (d) and (e) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Prohibition to take the floor (Art. 83 (e) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Order to discontinue the speech (Art. 87 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Suspension from taking the floor (Art. 86 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Deletion from the records (Art. 86 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Order to present apologies
- Exclusion from Parliament (Art. 157 (3) and 170 (d) of the Constitution, Art. 66 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
· Specific cases:
- Offence or insult (Art. 83 (e) and (f), 87, and 88 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Warning, call to order, prohibition to take the floor, offence or insult: the President; the Congress (appeal)
- Suspension from taking the floor, deletion from the records, order to discontinue the speech, offence or insult: the President
- Exclusion from Parliament: the Congress
· Procedure:
- Warning and call to order (Art. 83 (d) and (f) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Warning, call to order, prohibition to take the floor, offence or insult (Art. 83 (e) and (f) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Order to discontinue the speech, offence or insult (Art. 87 and 88 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Suspension from taking the floor, deletion from the records (Art. 86 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Exclusion from Parliament (Art. 157 (3) and 170 (d) of the Constitution, Art. 66 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
Code (rules) of conduct · This concept does not exist in the country's juridical system but there are some relevant provisions (Art. 161 (b) (4), 164 of the Constitution, Art. 53, 61, and 67 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ; for the declaration of personal assets, see Obligation to declare personal assets).
· Penalties foreseen for violation of the rules of conduct:
- Suspension, exclusion from Parliament (Art. 161 (b) (4) of the Constitution, Art. 61 (1), (3) and (4) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ; judicial proceedings and condemnatory sentence)
- Suspension, exclusion from Parliament (Art. 164 of the Constitution, Art. 61 (2) to (4) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ; incompatibilities)
- Private or public admonition, vote of censure (Art. 53 and 67 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ)
- Suspension, exclusion: the Congress
- Private or public admonition, vote of censure: the Board; the Congress (appeal)
· Procedure:
- Suspension, exclusion from Parliament (Art. 161 (b) (4) of the Constitution, Art. 61 (1), (3) and (4) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ). In this case, MPs have (no) means of recourse.
- Suspension, exclusion from Parliament (Art. 164 of the Constitution, Art. 61 (2) to (4) of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ).
- Private or public admonition, vote of censure (Art. 53 and 67 of the Organic Law of the Legislative Organ).
Relations between MPs and pressure group · There are no legal provisions in this field.

This page was last updated on 13 February 2017
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