Following the reinstatement of the second monarchy in 1993, Cambodian citizens are the masters of their destiny and the source of all power.1 With the introduction of the liberal democracy, all Cambodians 18 years or older, except where it is prescribed otherwise by the law, are eligible to vote or to stand as candidates in national and local elections. In a parliamentary country like Cambodia, parliament represents the legislative power and is the most powerful organ of the state.
As a bicameral legislature, parliament in Cambodia has two chambers: the National Assembly and the Senate.2 While members of the National Assembly are directly elected by Cambodian citizens every five years3, most members of the Senate are indirectly elected by members of the Commune Council.4 The remaining senators are nominated by the King and the National Assembly to 6 year terms.5 Thus, the direct election of the National Assembly’s members may partly explain the reason why the Assembly is more powerful than the Senate.
The National Assembly has three main functions: law making, approvals over national policies and overseeing the government. While any members of the Assembly may initiate proposed laws, the Assembly itself adopts any draft laws introduced by the prime minister, the head of the executive branch. Strategic development plans and strategies as well as national budgets, are also subjected to the approval of the Assembly.6 Most importantly, the National Assembly oversees the executive branch and its members, who are responsible to the National Assembly for the implementation of laws and policy.7
The Senate’s role in parliament is to review and give opinions on legislation approved by the National Assembly. This higher chamber comments on and proposes changes to any draft laws or proposed laws after the approval of the National Assembly.8 Normally, the National Assembly considers the opinions given by the Senate, but, where the two chambers disagree, the latter has the final word.9 Although the Senate has a duty to facilitate work between the National Assembly and the Royal Government of Cambodia (the executive branch), the exercise of this function is hardly seen.10
The organization and functioning of the parliament is defined by the internal rules: the Internal Rules of the National Assembly and the Internal Rules of the Senate.11 The internal rules are normally subjected to the approval of each chamber at the beginning of their mandate. Additionally, the joint meeting of both chambers, the so-called the Congress of the National Assembly and the Senate, is regulated by a separate law and internal rule.12
Last updated: 14 August 2015
- 1. Constitution, article 51 new.
- 2. Constitution, Chapter 7 and Chapter 8.
- 3. Constitution, article 76 and article 78. Also see Law on the Election of the National Assembly (2015).
- 4. Constitution, article 99 new. Also see Law on the Election of the Senate Members.
- 5. Constitution, article 100 new.
- 6. By the fourth quarter of every year, the Royal Government of Cambodia prepares the draft Law on National Budget that will define the anticipated income and the expense of the country’s administration annually. This draft law needs to go through the votes of the parliament. Open Development Cambodia (ODC). “Laws and Regulations: Budget Law 2015.” Accessed on June 22, 2015, http://www.opendevelopmentcambodia.net/pdf-viewer/?pdf=download/law/Budget_Law_2015_KHM__18.12.2014.pdf
- 7. Constitution, article 96-98 new.
- 8. Constitution, article 113 new.
- 9. Ibid.
- 10. Constitution, article 112 new.
- 11. National Assembly. “Internal Rule of the National Assembly” (Fifth mandate as amended in December 2014). Accessed on June 23, 2015, http://www.national-assembly.org.kh/group-article/29 ; Senate. “Internal Rule of the Senate.” (Third mandate as amended in 2014). Accessed on June 23, 2015, http://www.senate.gov.kh/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6490&Itemid=273&lang=km
- 12. Law on Organization and Functioning of the Congress between the National Assembly and the Senate, promulgated by Royal Kram No. NS/RKM/0211/005 dated February 19, 2011. National Assembly. “List of Laws: Fourth Mandate.” Accessed on June 23, 2015, http://www.national-assembly.org.kh/ViewLawFile.aspx?LawDID=390 ; The Internal Rule of the Congress between the National Assembly and the Senate. Constitutional Council. “Decision No. 114/002/2011 dated May 09, 2011.” Accessed on June 23, 2015, http://www.ccc.gov.kh/khmer/decision/2011/dec_002.pdf