Algeria has a bicameral legislature, which consists of a 389-member National People’s Assembly (Al-Majlis Al-Chaabi Al-Watani) and an upper house, a 144-member National Council (Majlis Al-Oumma). The upper house was created as a result of a constitutional revision in 1996. Eight of the lower house seats are reserved for nationals living abroad.
Assembly members are elected for five-year terms. The members of the Council serve for six-year terms. The president of the republic appoints one-third of them from qualified persons in scientific, cultural, professional, economic, and social fields. The members of the Municipal Councils, the People’s Communal Assemblies and the People’s Wilaya Assemblies choose the remaining 96 members. Half of the members of the Council, except for its president, are renewed every three years. Assembly members elect the speaker of the People's Assembly for the term of the legislative body. The speaker of the National Council is elected after each partial renewal of the members of the Council.
The constitution gives the parliament a clear mandate to control the actions of the executive branch. Parliamentary committees may hear the members of the executive branch, by addressing them orally or in the form of written questions. Answers to written questions should be in written form within a maximum time limit of thirty days. Answers to oral questions are given in session. The questions and answers are published in accordance with the same conditions as those of the minute of proceedings of parliamentary debates.
Initiated by one-seventh of its members, the People’s National Assembly may vote for a motion of censure. The motion of censure should be approved by two thirds of the Assembly. If the motion is adopted, the prime minister, along with his government, resigns.
Sessions, Dissolution, State of Exception
The parliament meets in two ordinary sessions a year, each lasting a minimum period of four months. The two chambers may meet for extraordinary sessions upon the request of the president of the republic, or of the head of government, or of the two-thirds of the membership of the parliament.
After consulting the speaker of the People’s National Assembly, the speaker of the National Council, and the prime minister, the president of the republic may dissolve the People’s National Assembly. In that case, general elections are held within a maximum time limit of three months.
The mandate of the Parliament cannot be extended unless there are very exceptional circumstances which hinder the normal progress of elections. This situation is ascertained by a decision of the Parliament, sitting in both chambers convened together, following a proposal of the President of the Republic approved by the Constitutional Council.
In cases of vacancy of the National People’s Assembly, a state of exception, or in the inter-session periods of the parliament, the president of the republic can legislate by ordinance. However, ordinances that are not adopted by the parliament eventually are considered void.
The speaker of the People’s Assembly is elected for the term of the legislative body. Currently, this is Karim Younis. The speaker of the National Council is elected after each partial renewal of the members of the Council. Currently, this is Abdelkader Ben Saleh.
Both chambers of the parliament adopt their internal rules, elect their bureaus, and form their committees. The internal rules of each of the two chambers also define the conditions of excluding a member.
Lawsuits cannot be instituted against a deputy or a member for crime or infringement, unless there is authorization from the chamber to which the member belongs. The chamber decides, by the majority of its members, to lift a member’s immunity. In case of flagrant crime, the member concerned may be arrested. The bureau of the chamber, depending on the case, is informed immediately.
Legislative Drafting Processes
The legislative domain of the parliament is clearly spelled out in articles 122 and 123 of the Constitution of Algeria. The parliament legislates, among others, in areas of fundamental rights and duties of the individuals, general rules concerning personal status and family law, on nationality and immigration issues. It defines the rules related to the organization of the judiciary and to the setting up of its jurisdictions, the general rules of the penal law, amnesty, state budget, taxation, banking, customs regulation, and public health. The parliament passes laws on labor, social security, trade unions, environmental regulations, civil service, national defense, electoral regulation, and the laws on information and political parties. Armistice agreements, peace, alliances and union treaties, treaties related to national borders as well as treaties involving expenses not provided for in the state budget also require the approval of both chambers of the parliament.
The prime minister and twenty members of the Assembly have the right to initiate laws. Laws must originate in the lower chamber. A three-quarters majority in the National Council must also approve any law that is approved by the National People’s Assembly by a majority vote. If the president of the republic requests a second reading of a voted law within thirty days following its adoption, two thirds of the deputies of the National People’s Assembly are required for the law to be adopted.
In cases of disagreement between the two chambers on a draft law initiated by the government, a committee of equal representation from the two chambers, upon the request of the prime minister, meets to iron out those differences. The new draft law is again submitted to the two chambers and cannot be amended without an agreement from the executive branch. In the case that the disagreement persists, the draft is withdrawn.
Laws are submitted to the Constitutional Council, promulgated by the President of the Republic within thirty days from the date of their submission, and published in the Official Gazette.
The Algerian government has established a Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs to coordinate the relations between the executive and legislative branches.
The Algerian parliament is a member of both the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU).