On 25 March 1964, President Nasser proclaimed an interim constitution; it remained in effect until a permanent constitution, drafted by the National Assembly, was approved by the electorate in a plebiscite on 11 September 1971. The 1971 constitution declares Egypt to be a democratic socialist state and an integral part of the Arab nation. The state of emergency, in effect since the Sadat assassination in 1981, and tough new antiterrorism laws against Islamists have given the government sweeping powers of repression, reminiscent of the Nasser era.
The president of the republic is the head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces. He appoints and retires as many vice presidents and cabinet members as he wishes; he also appoints the prime minister. In addition, he appoints and retires civil, military, and diplomatic personnel in accordance with the law. The president's power to declare war and conclude treaties with foreign countries is subject to the approval of the People's Assembly, a unicameral legislative body consisting in 2003 of 444 elected and 10 appointed members serving five-year terms. A 264-member advisory body, the Shura Council, was formed in 1980. The People's Assembly nominates the president, who must then be confirmed by plebiscite for a six-year term. The constitution was amended by popular referendum in 1980 to permit Sadat to serve more than two terms. Vice President Mubarak, who became president upon Sadat's assassination, was confirmed in that office in national referendums in October 1981, 1987, 1993, and 1999. Suffrage is universal at age 18. The next elections were scheduled October 2005 for president, and November 2005 for the Assembly.