Introduction to Laotian Governmental Structure

Along with Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and China, Laos is one of the final strongholds of communism. It is a single-party communist government where the Laotian People’s Revolutionary Party officially rules the nation (LPRP). However, Laos’ Communist Party is reluctant to appear to be an obviously communist organization. In fact, there are no official documents in the country that use the term “communism,” and the Lao National History Museum’s bust of Lenin is the only statue of either Marx or Lenin.  

President Thongloun Sisoulith, who is also the general secretary of the LPRP, is Laos’ ultimate leader and the country’s head of state. The Prime Minister of Thailand is Phankham Viphavanh. The party, through the supremely powerful 49-member Central Committee and nine-member Politburo, decides on governmental decisions. The Council of Ministers reviews crucial government decisions. 

Many political experts pronounce that secrets and strongmen essentially characterize modern-day Laotian politics. Laos, where the republic democratic people party of Laos has been in power since 1975, is described by the U.S. State Department as a “particularly restrictive state” and a “place of unusually strong government control.” 

The Laos flag comprises three horizontal stripes: a white disc in the middle, and a big blue band between the red bands at the top and bottom. The blue reportedly denotes nationalism and the red stands for bravery and heroism. The communist light is represented by the white circle. Another interpretation states that the color red symbolizes the blood shed for freedom. The white disk symbolizes the full moon against the Mekong River, as well as the people’s unity under the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the country’s promising future, while the blue ribbon depicts the Mekong River and wealth.

A three-headed elephant, a representation of monarchy, appeared on the previous royalist flag. Only on National Day (December 2) is the Laotian flag permitted to be flown, and it is occasionally joined by a second Laotian flag bearing a hammer and sickle. On a national day, many Laotians obediently display hammer-and-sickle banners. 

The president, who is chosen by the National Assembly has to serve a five-year term and is in charge of the executive branch. The prime minister, who is in charge of the ministry council, assists the president. The national assembly, which consists of 85 lawmakers chosen by the general public for a 5-year term, wields the legislative authority and is the guardian of the constitution.

On May 11, 1947, the country of Laos promulgated its first monarchical, French-written constitution, which established its independence within the French Union. Although the French Union was not mentioned in the May 11, 1957, revised constitution, there were still strong connections in the fields of technology, health care, and education. 

Meanwhile, on December 3, 1975, a communist state was established, repealing the 1957 agreement. In 1991, a new constitution was enacted that established the LPRP’s “leading role.” The 85-seat National Assembly was elected the next year in secret elections, with members serving five-year terms. All new laws must be approved by this National Assembly, although the executive branch still has the power to make legally binding decrees. 

The latest election was held in Laos in March 2016. Generally, the government structure in Laos consists of three major branches: executive, judicial, and legislative which fulfill the three main government functions. 

The executive branch appoints the prime minister and the cabinet and is responsible for carrying out the government’s actual business. The National Assembly elects the president to a five-year term in office. 

The president then appoints the prime minister and the Council of Ministers for a five-year term. Four deputy prime ministers are also in the office. They are Maj. Gen. Douangchay Phichit (also the defense minister), Thongloun Sisoulith (also the foreign minister), Somsavat Lengsavad, and Maj. Gen. Asang Laoly as of the June 8, 2006, cabinet reshuffle. The 28-member cabinet also comprises the ministers of labor Onechanh Thammavong, justice Chaleuan Yapaoher, industry and commerce Nam Vignaket, agriculture Sitaheng Latsaphone, and transport Sommad Pholsena.

The legislative branch elects the president, consents to presidential appointments, and is responsible for forming the legislature. 132 individuals were chosen in multi-member constituencies by a majority vote. The judicial branch of the Laotian government structure embodies the Supreme People’s Court, the Local People’s Court, and the Military Court as Defined by Law comprise the Lao People’s Court, as stated in Article 91 of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s Constitution.

In 1982, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic founded its Supreme People’s Court. The People’s Supreme Court of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, which is the country’s highest court and “examines the judgments and judgments of the people’s courts and military courts,” is described in Article 92 of the constitution. There have been hints that women have served on provincial courts. 

The private property appears to be ensured by the claim that the “state safeguards the right of ownership,” including the right of transfer and inheritance. The economic policy’s goal of Laos is to convert the “natural economy into a products economy.” However, it is also expressly stated that the state has the power to manage the economy, provide education, advance public health, and look after the elderly, the sick, and veterans of war.

188 lawyers are members of the Laos Bar Association in Laos. The majority of lawyers, however, work in the public sector and do not practice law, rarely thinking about doing so. While there is evidence of female lawyers in Laos, there is no information on how women have fared in the legal profession. 

The constitution of Laos can safeguard human rights and the observance of the law by both the rulers and the people, even while it doesn’t alter the deeply ingrained patterns of the Laotian political system or pose a danger to the party’s dominating position. Growing calls for a more dependable rule of law are expected to reach Laos as well, judging by the fall of communist governments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union as well as other communist systems under pressure and widespread movements for democracy.