Guatemala’s political structure is a presidential representative democratic republic, in which the President of Guatemala has both positions of head of state and head of government.
Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Congress of the Republic. The Congress of the Republic is the unicameral legislature of the Republic of Guatemala. It comprises 158 deputies, who are elected by direct universal suffrage to serve four-year terms (the number was increased from 113 for the 2003 election). The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Guatemala's 1985 Constitution provides for a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The 1993 constitutional reforms included an increase in the number of Supreme Court justices from 9 to 13. The terms of office for president, vice president, and congressional deputies were reduced from five years to four years; for Supreme Court justices from six years to five years, and increased the terms of mayors and city councils from 30 months to four years.
The Constitutional Court is Guatemala's highest court. It is composed of five judges, elected for concurrent five-year terms by Congress, each serving one year as president of the Court: one is elected by Congress, one elected by the Supreme Court of Justice, one is appointed by the President, one is elected by Superior Council of the Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, and one by the bar association.
The Supreme Court of Justice comprises thirteen members, who serve concurrent five-year terms and elect a president of the Court each year from among their number. The president of the Supreme Court of Justice also supervises trial judges around the country, who are named to five-year terms).
The 1999 presidential and legislative elections were considered by international observers to have been free and fair. Participation by women and indigenous voters was higher than in the recent past, although concerns remained regarding the accessibility of polling places in rural areas.