Honduras is a constitutional republic that—after being under Spanish colonial rule for more than 300 years—received independence in 1821, joined the United Provinces of Central America in 1824, and established itself as a separate republic in 1839. The Republic of Honduras (Republica de Honduras) is a multiparty democracy with a strong executive branch of government. The unicameral National Congress elects the members of the judiciary. Honduras's current president is Porfirio Lobo Sosa.
A Constituent Assembly, elected on April 20, 1980, drafted a new Honduran Constitution that was promulgated on January 20, 1982. The Constitution declares the right to life inviolable and recognizes the rights to freedom of thought, opinion, expression, religion, peaceful assembly, circulation of information, and education. The document also recognizes the right of habeas corpus, and arrests are made only through judicial order. The constitution was amended in 1995.
A popularly elected president holds executive power and is assisted by a cabinet. The president may only serve one four-year term. The president's actions may be approved or disapproved by the National Congress.
Legislative power in Honduras is exercised by a unicameral, 128-member Congreso Nacional (National Congress), which is chosen every four years through a system of proportional representation and serves a term concurrent with that of the president. The National Congress has the power to declare war; grant amnesties to political prisoners; interpret, decree, amend, and repeal laws; pass legislation that fixes the exchange rate or stabilizes the national currency; and suspend certain guarantees for no more than 60 days in the event of epidemics, danger from foreign or civil wars, or other national disasters.
A Supreme Court composed of nine judges and seven substitute judges heads Honduras's system of courts of appeal and local departmental courts. Supreme Court justices are elected by the National Congress for a period of four years. The Supreme Court may rule on the constitutionality of laws.
Honduras comprises 18 departments—each with a centrally appointed governor—that are further subdivided into autonomous municipalities (283 in total) governed by an elected mayor and municipal assembly. Local offices have only economic and administrative functions.
All citizens 18 years of age and older are required to vote.
Honduras has had many leaders from several parties since gaining its independence from Spain and from Mexico; nineteen have served as president during the period when Honduras was a part of the Federal Republic of Central America. Sixty-seven men have served as president of the Republic of Honduras. The current Honduras president is President Porfirio Lobo. In addition there have been several joint governments
Honduras has five registered political parties: National Party (Partido Nacional de Honduras: PNH); Liberal Party (Partido Liberal de Honduras: PLH); Social Democrats (Partido Innovación y Unidad-Social Demócrata: PINU-SD), Social Christians (Partido Demócrata-Cristiano de Honduras: DCH); and Democratic Unification (Partido Unificación Democrática: UD). PNH and PLH have ruled the country for decades. In the last years, Honduras has had six Liberal presidents: Roberto Suazo Córdova, José Azcona del Hoyo, Carlos Roberto Reina, Carlos Roberto Flores, Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti, and three Nationalists: Rafael Leonardo Callejas Romero, Ricardo Maduro and Porfirio Lobo Sosa. The elections have been full of controversies, including questions about whether Azcona was born in Spain, and whether Maduro should have been able to stand, given he was born in Panama.
In 1963, a military coup was mounted against the democratically elected president Ramón Villeda Morales. This event started a string of Military Governments which held power