The politics of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (commonly known as Laos) takes place in the framework of a one-party parliamentary socialist republic. The only legal political party is the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The head of state is President Thongloun Sisoulith, who is also the LPRP general secretary, making him the supreme leader of Laos. The head of government is Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh.
Government policies are determined by the party through the all-powerful nine-member LPRP Politburo and the 49-member LPRP Central Committee. Important government decisions are vetted by the Council of Ministers.
Laos' first, French-written and monarchical constitution was promulgated on May 11, 1947 and declared it to be an independent state within the French Union. The revised constitution of May 11, 1957, omitted reference to the French Union, though close educational, health and technical ties with the former colonial power persisted. The 1957 document was abrogated on December 3, 1975, when a communist state was proclaimed.
A new constitution was adopted in 1991 and enshrined a "leading role" for the LPRP. The following year, elections were held for a new 85-seat National Assembly with members elected by secret ballot to five-year terms. This National Assembly approves all new laws, although the executive branch retains authority to issue binding decrees.
The most recent election took place in February 2021. The election was tightly-controlled by the ruling LPRP.
Further information: Insurgency in Laos
In the early 2000s, bomb attacks against the government occurred, coupled with small exchanges of fire, across Laos. A variety of different groups have claimed responsibility including the Committee for Independence and Democracy in Laos and Lao Citizens Movement for Democracy.
Main article: Politburo of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party
Main article: Secretariat of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party
Inspection Committee of the Party Central Committee
Party Central Committee Advisor: Khamtai Siphandon
|President||Thongloun Sisoulith||Lao People's Revolutionary Party||22 March 2021|
|Prime Minister||Phankham Viphavanh||Lao People's Revolutionary Party||22 March 2021|
The president is elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the president with the approval of the National Assembly for a five-year term.
There are also four deputy prime ministers. As of a cabinet reshuffle on June 8, 2006, they are Maj. Gen. Douangchay Phichit (also defense minister), Thongloun Sisoulith (also foreign minister), Somsavat Lengsavad and Maj. Gen. Asang Laoly.
The 28-member cabinet also includes Onechanh Thammavong as labour minister, Chaleuan Yapaoher as justice minister, Nam Vignaket as industry and commerce minister, Sitaheng Latsaphone as agriculture minister and Sommad Pholsena as transport minister.
The National Assembly (Sapha Heng Xat) has 164 members (158 are LPRP, 6 independents), elected for a five-year term.
Main articles: List of political parties in Laos and Elections in Laos
Main article: 2016 Laotian parliamentary election
|Lao People's Revolutionary Party||144||+16|
|General Secretary||Thongloun Sisoulith||Lao People's Revolutionary Party||15 January 2021|
According to Article 91 of the Constitution of the Lao PDR, the People's Court of the Lao People's Democratic Republic "consists of the Supreme People's Court, the local people's court and the military court as defined by law".
The Supreme People's Court of the Lao People's Democratic Republic was established in 1982. As outlined in Article 92, the People's Supreme Court of the Lao People's Democratic Republic is the highest judicial body and "examines the judgments and judgments of the people's courts and military courts". There has been indications that women have served on the provincial courts. For instance, in 2018, it was announced that Napaporn Phong Thai was appointed as the President of Court Zone 2, Xayaburi Province.
Per Article 93, the President, Vice President and the judges are appointed, transferred or removed by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly. Although the Standing Committee has decisive authority, the same article does state that President does have some power regarding the appointment, transferal or removal of the Vice President.
In 1983, Oun Nue Phimmasone became the first President of the People's Supreme Court. Currently, the President is Khamphanh Sithidampha.
The Public Prosecutor's Office was established in 1990. Article 99 of the Constitution of Laos states that the office has the responsibility of "monitor[ing] the observance and implementation of laws throughout the country, protect[ing] the rights of the state and society...[and] the legitimate interests of the people, and prosecut[ing] detainees in accordance with the law". The office is organized in the following three ways:
Supreme People's Prosecutor
The Chief of the Supreme Public Prosecutor directs all the activities of the Public Prosecutor at every level. All activities are reported to the National Assembly.
Local People's Procuratorate
Military Prosecutor's Office
Currently, the Supreme People's Prosecutor is Khamsane Souvong.
As for attorneys in general, according to a 2016 article, there are 188 lawyers in Laos who are members of the Laos Bar Association. However, most of the attorneys have entered the government sector and do not practice law—seldom giving thought to practicing in the private sector. While there is evidence of female lawyers in Laos, there is no indication as to how women have fared in the legal field. Pursuant to the Resolution of the National Assembly No. 024 / NA (On the Adoption of the Law on Lawyers; November 9, 2016), requirements include possessing a baccalaureate degree, being a Laos citizen and passing an examination (separate requirements exist for foreign lawyers). Although the Laos Bar Association issues certificates to graduates of the legal profession, it is the Ministry of Justice of Laos that sets the legal training standards.
Somphao Phaysith, Governor of Lao PDR Central Bank
Main article: Administrative divisions of Laos
Laos is divided into 17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural), 1 municipality* ( nakhon luang vientiane, singular and plural):
Attapu, Bokeo, Borikhamxay, Champassack, Houaphan, Khammouane, Louang Namtha, Luangphabang, Oudomxay, Phongsaly, Saravane, Savannakhet, Sekong, Vientiane*, Vientiane, Sayaboury, Xaisomboun, and Xieng Khouang.