Between 1954 and 1975, Suriname was administered by a governor appointed by and representing the Dutch crown, with a cabinet appointed by the governor and an elected Parliament (Staten van Suriname). Under the constitution adopted on 21 November 1975 by Parliament, Suriname is a republic. However, that constitution, which provided for a unicameral, 39-member Parliament directly elected for a four-year term by universal suffrage, was suspended on 15 August 1980 and Parliament was dissolved. Bouterse then ruled through a series of appointed governments, whose members represented the military, industry, trade unions, business, and political parties. In September 1987, a popular referendum approved a new constitution, which is still in effect.
The constitution provides for a unicameral 51-member National Assembly directly elected for a five-year term. The executive branch consists of the president, vice president, and prime minister, all selected by the legislature. There is also a cabinet and an appointed Council of State. The judicial system is ineffective and in need of reform.