The Syrian parliament is the unicameral People's Assembly (Majlis al-Shaab). Its 250 members are elected popularly for four-year terms of office. No less than 50 percent of the parliament must represent workers and peasants. Members enjoy full immunity. The People's Assembly rules on the validity of the membership of its members if it is challenged in light of investigations undertaken by the Supreme Constitutional Court within one month of the People’s Assembly’s notification of the Court's verdict. A member's membership in the Assembly is invalidated only by a majority vote of its members.
The People’s Assembly is endowed with authority to debate, amend and approve legislation and presidential decrees. The People's Assembly may debate motions of no confidence in the Council of Ministers as a whole or in an individual minister. Such a motion must be initiated by at least one-fifth of the members and, to become effective, must be approved by the majority of the People's Assembly. If the motion is carried, the Council of Ministers or the individual minister concerned must resign.
Sessions, Dissolution, State of Exception
The Assembly sits in three regular sessions annually and may be called into special session by the speaker, by the president of the republic, or at the request of one-third of the Assembly members. The Assembly enacts laws, discusses government policy, approves the general budget and development plans, ratifies treaties, and nominates the candidate for the presidency of the republic. The president of the republic has the right to dissolve the parliament.
The Office of the People's Assembly is composed of a president, a vice-president, two secretaries and supervisors. The main duties of the office are to supervise the sessions of the People's Assembly, to keep order in the sessions, and to give approvals for the sessions. The office takes care of preparing the budget of the assembly. The office has the right to ask for a session.
The members of the People's Assembly elect the speaker for a one-year term by absolute majority for the first round and simple majority for subsequent rounds. The speaker convenes sessions, establishes and modifies the parliamentary agenda, organizes the debates and sets speaking time, examines the admissibility of bills and amendments, refers texts to one of the Assembly’s 12 standing committees for study, examines the admissibility of requests for setting up provisional committees and/or special committees of enquiry, and proposes or decides on the setting-up of such committees. He also takes the floor in legislative debates, takes part in voting, proposes bills or amendments, and intervenes in the parliamentary oversight procedure. The current speaker is Mahmoud Al.Abrach. The secretary general is Abdel Razaq al-Qatini.
Committee Structures and Membership
The Assembly has 12 standing committees and additionally forms provisional committees from its members to collect information and to find facts on the subjects concerning the exercising of its jurisdiction.
Legislative Drafting Processes
The People’s Assembly debates and passes legislation. Any law passed by the assembly is subject to review by the president, who has one month to promulgate the law or return it to the legislature. Any bill so returned can be put to a second vote. If the bill obtains a two-thirds majority of those present and at least an absolute majority of all members of the legislature, then the president must issue the bill as law. One third of the members of the People’s Assembly can propose a constitutional amendment, though such an amendment must win by a three-fourths majority and be approved by the president to enter into force.
The Syrian parliament is a member of both the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU).