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The Dominican Republic is governed under a constitution adopted in 1966 and amended in 1994 and 2002.
Executive power in the Dominican Republic is vested in a president, who is popularly elected for a term of four years. The president appoints a cabinet and may also introduce bills in congress. The constitution was amended in 2002 to permit the president to serve two terms in succession.
The bicameral congress of the Dominican Republic is composed of an upper chamber (the Senate), which has 32 members, and a lower chamber (the Chamber of Deputies), with 150 deputies. All legislative members are popularly elected for terms of four years.
The highest tribunal in the Dominican Republic is the Supreme Court of Justice, made up of at least 11 judges. The National Judiciary Council appoints the judges to the Supreme Court judges, and they appoint judges to the other courts. Lower courts include courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and a land tribunal.
The Dominican Party was the only legal party between 1930 and 1961, when it was dissolved and new parties were established. The principal parties are the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (Dominican Revolutionary Party, or PRD), the Partido de la Liberacion Dominicana (Dominican Liberation Party, or PLD), and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (Christian Social Reform Party, or PRSC). The conservative PRSC draws support from the peasant and middle classes, and the PRD is composed largely of landless peasants and urban workers. The two have been archrivals since the 1960s. The left-wing PLD was formed by breakaway members of the PRD in 1973.
The Dominican Republic is divided into 31 provinces plus the Distrito Nacional (National District), which encompasses Santo Domingo, the capital. The provinces are subdivided into municipalities and townships.
The 31 provinces of the Dominican Republic are administered by governors, who are appointed by the country’s president. Each municipality and the Distrito Nacional elect a mayor and a municipal council as the administrative body.
Health and Welfare
Different administrations have sought to raise health standards in the Dominican Republic, and various government programs provide health services. A law passed in 2000 created universal health-care insurance. One of its aims was to improve maternal and child health. Malnutrition is common among the children of poor families. Health care is provided by both public and private institutions, but facilities for the urban and rural poor are inadequate. Migration from rural areas to large cities, where unemployment remains high, has created slum conditions on the edges of the cities. Clean water and adequate sewage facilities are largely lacking in these urban slums. In 2004 the country had 532 inhabitants for every physician.
In 2004 the armed forces of the Dominican Republic comprised an army of 15,000, a navy of 4,000, and an air force of 5,500. Military service is voluntary.
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