Costa Rica 1949 Constitution (reviewed 2020)

Table of Contents

Title X. The Executive Power

Chapter I. The President and the Vice Presidents of the Republic

Article 130

The President of the Republic and the Ministers of Government[,] with the character of obligated collaborators[,] exercise the Executive Power in the name of the People.

Article 131

[The following] is required to be President or Vice President of the Republic:

  1. To be Costa Rican by birth and [a] citizen in exercise;
  2. To have secular status;
  3. To be older than thirty years.

Article 132

[The following] may not be elected President or Vice President:

  1. Whoever served in the Presidency in any interval within the eight years prior to the period for which exercise the election is verified, or the Vice President or [the person] who substitutes [for] him, who served it during the greater part of any of the periods included in the expressed eight years;
  2. The Vice President who retained that character in the twelve months preceding the election, and who in his place exercised the Presidency for any interval within that term;
  3. Whoever is by consanguinity or affinity [an] ancestor], descendant, or sibling of the person occupying the Presidency of the Republic when effecting the election or of whoever performed it in any interval within the six months preceding that date;
  4. Whoever was Minister of Government during the twelve months preceding the date of the election;
  5. The titular Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, the titular and substitutes Magistrates of the Supreme Tribunal of Elections, the Director of the Civil Registry, the directors or managers of the autonomous institutions, the Comptroller and Sub-Controller General of the Republic.

This incompatibility includes the persons who performed the offices indicated within the twelve months preceding the date of the election.

Article 133

The election of President and Vice Presidents will be held on the first Sunday of February of the year in which the renewal of these functionaries must be effected.

Article 134

The presidential period will be of four years.

The actions of the public functionaries and of the individuals that violate the principle of alternation in the exercise of the Presidency, or that of free presidential succession, consecrated by this Constitution[,] will imply treason to the Republic. The responsibility derived from such actions will be imprescriptible.

Article 135

There will be two Vice Presidents of the Republic, who will replace the President in his absolute absence, in the order of their nomination. In his temporary absences, the President may call either of the Vice Presidents for [them] to substitute him.

When none of the Vice President may fill the temporary or permanent absences of the President, the President of the Legislative Assembly will occupy the office.

Article 136

The President and the Vice Presidents of the Republic will take possession of their offices on the eighth day of May; and the constitutional period [being] terminated[,] they will cease by that same fact in the exercise of them.

Article 137

The President and the Vice Presidents will take an oath before the Legislative Assembly; but if they could not do so before it, they will do so before the Supreme Court of Justice.

Article 138

The President and the Vice Presidents will be elected simultaneously and by a majority of votes that exceeds forty percent of the total number of [the] suffrage validly emitted.

The candidates for President and Vice Presidents of a party, must figure for their election in a same list [of nominations], with the exclusion of any other functionary to be elected.

If none of the lists [of nominations] reaches the indicated majority, a second popular election will be practiced on the first Sunday of April of the same year between the two lists [of nominations] that received more votes, those that figure on the one that obtains the greater number of [the] suffrage being elected.

If in any of the elections two lists [of nominations] result with [an] equal number of sufficient suffrage, the oldest candidate will be considered [tendrá por] elected as President, and the respective candidates of the same list [of nominations] as Vice Presidents.

The citizens included in a list [of nominations] already registered according to the law may not renounce the candidacy to the Presidency or Vice Presidencies, nor may the candidates of the two list [of nominations] that obtained [the] greater number of votes in the first [election] abstain themselves from figuring in the second election.

Chapter II. Duties and Attributions of Those Who Exercise the Executive Power

Article 139

[The following] are exclusive duties and attributions of those who exercise the Presidency of the Republic;

  1. To freely appoint and to remove the Ministers of Government;
  2. To represent the Nation in the acts of official character;
  3. To exercise the supreme command of the public force;
  4. To present to the Legislative Assembly, at the initiation of the first annual period of sessions, a written message relative to the various matters of the Administration and to the political state of the Republic and in which he must, additionally, propose the measures that he judges important for the good functioning of the Government and the progress and wellbeing of the Nation;
  5. To previously communicate to the Legislative Assembly, when he intends to leave the country, the motives for his trip.

Article 140

[The following] are duties and attributions that correspond jointly to the President and to the respective Minister of Government:

  1. To freely appoint and to remove the members of the public force, the employees and functionaries who serve offices of confidence, and the others that, in very qualified cases, the Law of [the] Civil Service determines;
  2. To appoint and to remove, subject to the requirements provided by the Law of [the] Civil Service, the rest of the [public] servants of their dependency;
  3. To sanction and to promulgate the laws, to regulate them, to execute them and to see to their exact fulfillment;
  4. In the recesses of the Legislative Assembly, to decree the suspension of [the] rights and guarantees that paragraph 7) of Article 121 refers to[,] in the same cases and with the same limitations established there[,] and immediately give account to the Assembly. The decree of suspension of guarantees is equivalent, ipso facto, to the convocation of the Assembly to sessions, which must meet within the following forty-eight hours. If the Assembly does not confirm the measure by two-thirds of the votes of the totality of its members, the guarantees will be considered restored.If because of lack of quorum the Assembly cannot meet, it will do so the next day with any number of Deputies. In this case the decree of the Executive Power needs to be approved by [a] vote of no less than the two-thirds part of those present;
  5. To exercise the initiative in the formation of the laws, and the right of veto;
  6. To maintain the order and the tranquility of the Nation, to take the necessary measures [providencias] for the guarding of the public liberties;
  7. To provide for the collection and the investment of the national incomes in accordance to the laws;
  8. To see to the good functioning of the administrative services and dependencies;
  9. To execute and to have fulfilled all that decided [on] or provided [for] in the matters of their competence [by] the tribunals of Justice and the electoral organs, at the solicitation of the same;
  10. To celebrate agreements, public treaties and concordats, to promulgate them and to execute them once approved by the Legislative Assembly or by a Constituent Assembly, when that approval is required by this Constitution.The protocols derived from those public treaties or international agreements that do not require legislative approval, will enter into force once promulgated by the Executive Power.
  11. To render to the Legislative Assembly the reports that it solicits from them is use of its attributions;
  12. To direct the international relations of the Republic;
  13. To receive the Heads of State as well as the diplomatic representatives, and to admit the Consuls of other nations;
  14. To convoke the Legislative Assembly to ordinary and extraordinary sessions;
  15. To send to the Legislative Assembly the bill of National Budget at the time and with the requirements determined in this Constitution;
  16. To dispose of the public force to preserve the order, defense and security of the country;
  17. To issue navigation licenses;
  18. To give themselves the appropriate regulations for the internal regime of their offices and to issue the other regulations and ordinances necessary for the prompt execution of the laws;
  19. To subscribe the administrative contracts not included in paragraph 14) of Article 121 of this Constitution, under reserve of submitting them to the approval of the Legislative Assembly when they stipulate [the] exemption of taxes or rates, or [when] they have for their object the exploitation of public services, natural resources or wealth of the State.The legislative approval of these contracts will not give them character of laws nor will exempt them from their administrative juridical regime. That provided in this paragraph will not be applicable to the loans or other similar agreements, referred to in paragraph 15) of Article 121, which will be governed by their special norms;
  20. To fulfill the other duties and to exercise the other attributions that this Constitution and the laws confer to them.

Chapter III. The Ministers of Government

Article 141

For the dispatch of the business that corresponds to the Executive Power there will be the Ministers of Government that the law determines. It will be possible to entrust one Minister with two or more Ministries.

Article 142

To be a Minister it is required:

  1. To be a citizen in exercise;
  2. To be a Costa Rican by birth, or by naturalization with ten years of residence in the country, after having obtained the nationality;
  3. To have [a] secular status;
  4. To be already twenty-five years of age.

Article 143

The function of Minister is incompatible with the exercise of any other public office, whether of popular election or not, except the case of special laws re-entrusting them [with] functions. The rules, prohibitions and sanctions established in Articles 110, 111, 112 of this Constitution, are applicable to the Ministers in what is conducive.

The Vice Presidents of the Republic may perform Ministries.

Article 144

The Ministers of Government will present to the Legislative Assembly each year, within the first fifteen days of the first period of ordinary sessions, a report on the matters of their dependency.

Article 145

The Ministers of Government may attend at any moment, with voice but without vote, in the sessions of the Legislative Assembly, and they must [do so] when so provided by it.

Article 146

The decrees, agreements, resolutions and orders of the Executive Power, require for their validity the signatures of the President of the Republic and of the Minister of the branch [ramo] and, furthermore, in the cases that this Constitution establishes, the approval of the Council of Government.

The signature of the President of the Republic will suffice for the appointment and removal of the Ministers.

Chapter IV. The Council of Government

Article 147

The Council of Government is formed by the President of the Republic and the Ministers, to exercise, under the presidency of the former[,] the following functions:

  1. To solicit from the Legislative Assembly the declaration of the state of national defense and the authorization to decree the military recruitment, to organize the army and to negotiate peace;
  2. To exercise the right of pardon in the form that the law indicates;
  3. To appoint and to remove the Diplomatic Representatives of the Republic;
  4. To appoint the directors of the autonomous institutions whose designation corresponds to the Executive Power;
  5. To resolve the other businesses submitted to it by the President of the Republic who, if the gravity of some matter demands it, may invite other persons that, with [a] consultative character [may] participate in the deliberations of the Council.

Chapter V. Responsibilities of Those Who Exercise the Executive Power

Article 148

The President of the Republic will be responsible for the use he makes of those attributions that according to this Constitution correspond to him in an exclusive form. Each Minister of Government will be jointly responsible with the President[,] in respect to the exercise of the attributions that this Constitution grants to both of them. The responsibility for the acts of the Council of Government will extend to all those who concurred with their vote to adopt the respective agreement.

Article 149

The President of the Republic and the Minister of Government who had participated in the acts indicated as follows, will also be jointly responsible:

  1. When they compromise in any form the freedom, the political independence or the territorial integrity of the Republic;
  2. When they impede or obstruct directly or indirectly the popular elections, or infringe upon the principles of alternation in the exercise of the Presidency or of free presidential succession, or against the freedom, order or purity of the suffrage;
  3. When they impede or obstruct the functions that are specific to the Legislative Assembly, or restrict its freedom and independence;
  4. When they refuse to publish or execute the laws or other legislative acts;
  5. When they impede or obstruct the functions specific to the Judicial Power, or [when they] restrict the freedom with which the Tribunals must judge the causes submitted to their decision, or when they obstruct in some form the functions that correspond to the electoral organs or the municipalities;
  6. For all the other cases in which the Executive Power by action or omission violates some expressed law.

Article 150

The responsibility of whoever exercises the Presidency of the Republic and of the Ministers of Government for acts that do not imply [a] crime, may only be claimed while they are found in the exercise of their offices and up to four years after they ceased in their functions.

Article 151

The President, the Vice Presidents of the Republic or whoever is exercising the Presidency, may not be prosecuted, or judged except after the Legislative Assembly declares if there should be the formation of [a] criminal cause, by virtue of [an] interposed accusation.