House of Representatives
The House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus consists of 110 deputies elected on the basis of universal, free, equal, and direct elections by secret ballot. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus new elections of the deputies to the House of Representatives are to be scheduled no later than four months and to be held no later than 30 days prior to the termination of powers of the House of current convocation. Special elections to the House of Representatives are to be held three months after the day of prescheduled termination of its powers.
Public organizations, working teams and citizens of the Republic of Belarus have the right to nominate candidates for deputies. Every citizen of the Republic of Belarus who is at least 21 years old can be a deputy of the House of Representatives.
Expenditure incurred in the preparation and conduct of elections shall be covered by the State within the limits of the funds assigned for that purpose. In instances determined by the law, the expenditure for the preparation and conduct of elections may be carried out at the expense of public associations, enterprises, offices, organizations and citizens.
The first session of the House of Representatives after the elections is convened by the Central Commission on Elections and National Referenda and begins its work no later than within 30 days after the elections.
Term of the House of Representatives
The term of the House of Representatives is four years. At the same time the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus provides an opportunity and the procedure of prescheduled suspension of the powers of the House of Representatives. By the decision of the President of the Republic of Belarus the powers of the House of Representatives may be terminated prematurely in the following situations:
- if the House denies to express confidence to the Government;
- a non-confidence vote is expressed to the Government;
- if the House fails twice to give its consent for the appointment of the Prime-Minister;
- if the powers of the Council of the Republic are terminated.
The powers of the House of Representatives could also be terminated prematurely based on the decision of the Constitutional Court in the case of systematic or gross violations of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus. Decisions on the termination of powers are made by the President of the Republic of Belarus no later than within two months after official consultations with the Chairperson of the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives cannot be dissolved during a state of emergency or martial law, in the last six months of the term of office of the President, in the course of proceedings on the impeachment of the President. The House also cannot be dissolved in the course of the first year from the first day of its first session.
Competence of the House of Representatives
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus the House of Representatives:
1. Considers bills put forward by the President or submitted by no less than 150 thousand voters to amend or to give interpretation of the Constitution;
2. Considers bills including the guidelines of the domestic and foreign policy of the Republic of Belarus; the military doctrine; ratification and denunciation of international treaties; the fundamental concept and principles of execution of rights, liberties and duties of its citizens; citizenship issues, the status of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship; the rights of minorities; the approval of national budget and the account on its implementation; state taxes and dues; the principles of ownership; the basic principles of social security; the principles regulating labor and employment; marriage, family, childhood, maternity, paternity, upbringing, education, culture and health care; protection of the environment and rational utilization of natural resources; determination of the procedure for resolving issues relating to the administrative-territorial structure of the country; local self-government; the judicial system, court procedure and the status of judges; criminal liability; amnesty; declaration of war and conclusion of peace; legal aspects of martial law and a state of emergency; institution of state awards; interpretation of laws;
3. Calls elections of the President of the Republic of Belarus;
4. Grants consent to the President for the appointment of the Prime-Minister;
5. Considers the report of the Prime-Minister on the Government’s policy program and approves or rejects it; the second rejection of the program means expression of non-confidence to the Government;
6. Considers a call for a vote of confidence to the Government on the initiative of the Prime-Minister;
7. On the initiative of no less that one-third of the full composition of the House of Representatives expresses a non-confidence vote to the Government; the issue of liability of the Government may not be raised in the course of one year after the approval of the program of government policy;
8. Accepts the resignation of the President;
9. By a majority vote of full composition of the House of Representatives forwards charges of high treason or of some other grave crime against the President; on the basis of the appropriate decision of the Council of the Republic and with no less than two-thirds majority of the full composition of the House takes the decision to remove the President from office;
10. Cancels orders of the Chairperson of the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives may take decisions on other issues, which are determined by the Constitution.