State Structure and Political System of Colombia

By | April 26, 2022

According to microedu, Colombia is a unitary presidential republic. The Constitution adopted in 1991 retained the presidential form of government, but significantly balanced the powers of the various branches of government. Many functions of the central institutions have been transferred to local authorities, which enjoy political, administrative and financial autonomy. The cultural and ethnic diversity of the Colombian people is recognized.

Administrative division – 32 departments and the metropolitan area (Amasonas, Antioquia, Arauca, Atlantico, Bogotá Metropolitan District, Boyaca, Bolivar, Valle del Cauca, Vaupes, Vichada, Guaviare, Guainia, Guajira, Caqueta, Caldas, Casanare, Cauca, Quindio, Cordoba, Cundinamarca, Magdalena, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Risaralda, San Andres and Providencia, Santander, Cesar, Sucre, Tolima, Huila, Choco).

The largest cities (million people, 2002): Bogota, Cali (2.2), Medellin (1.9) and Barranquilla (1.3).

Legislative power is exercised by the Congress, which consists of the House of Representatives (166 deputies in 2002) and the Senate (102 senators). As the population grows, the number of deputies in the lower house increases. The competence of the congress includes legislative activity, the adoption of a national development plan and a program of public investment, regulation of financial, stock and insurance activities, determining the level of wages and social benefits for civil servants, the distribution of public resources, tax and credit policy, foreign trade and customs legislation. Congress determines the structure and powers of ministries and departments and other administrative bodies. If necessary, emergency powers are granted to the President, however, at any time and on their own initiative, congressmen can revise presidential decrees, approve or reject treaties and agreements concluded by representatives of the executive branch with public and private companies, foreign powers and international organizations. Congress has the right to grant amnesty, can hear government officials and representatives of the private sector, individuals and legal entities, and release ministers from their positions in case of incompetence or committed offenses.

The Senate decides on the dismissal of the president and vice-president of the republic and a number of other senior officials in the event of charges being brought against them, approves the assignment of the highest military ranks, gives permission for the passage of foreign troops through the territory of the republic, to declare war, elects members of the Constitutional Court and the Attorney General.

The House of Representatives elects the Defender of the People (Ombudsman), approves the report on the execution of the budget and the state of the state treasury, and, if there are appropriate constitutional reasons, brings charges against senior officials before the Senate.

Executive power is exercised by the president, who is the head of state, government, and supreme commander of the armed forces. He appoints and dismisses ministers and heads of central departments, can change the structure of ministries and departments. The government uses the legislative initiative, sends the national development plan and the draft state budget to the House of Representatives, and reports to the parliamentarians on the work done. The vice-president shall act as president in the event of his temporary absence or carry out special assignments assigned to him by the head of state.

The judiciary includes the Supreme Court, the State Council, lower courts. In the territory densely populated by the indigenous population, judicial functions may be carried out in accordance with accepted local norms and procedures, if they do not contradict the Constitution and other legislation of the republic. Minor disputes between citizens and communities are resolved by magistrates. There is also the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, whose tasks include the promotion of legal workers and disciplinary control over their activities, compiling lists of candidates for judicial positions and developing the budget of the judiciary, and resolving conflict situations. The Supreme Court may act as a court of cassation and administer justice to the President of the Republic, deputies and senators and senior officials in case they commit illegal actions. The Constitutional Court is elected by the Senate for 8 years without the right to re-election from candidates proposed by the President, the Supreme Court and the State Council.

The President and Vice-President of the country are elected by an absolute majority of votes on the basis of direct and secret ballot for a period of 4 years without the right to direct re-election. If necessary, after 3 weeks, a second round of voting is held, in which the two candidates who received the largest number of votes participate. A relative majority of votes is sufficient to win in the second round.

100 senators are elected from a national district, 2 senators representing Indian communities – additionally from a special national district. Members of the House of Representatives are elected by territorial districts (2 deputies from each department and metropolitan district). To represent ethnic groups, political minorities and Colombians living abroad, a special district is created, from which no more than 5 deputies are elected. The right to vote is granted from the age of 18. Members of the armed forces and police on active duty are deprived of the right to vote and cannot participate in the activities of political parties.

Colombia Politics