The Executive Branch

Title X The Executive Branch

Chapter I
The President and the Vice President of the Republic

Article 130

The Executive Power is exercised, on behalf of the people, by the President of the Republic and the Cabinet Ministers in the capacity of subordinate collaborators.

Article 131

To be President or Vice President of the Republic, it is required to be:
  1. A Costa Rican by birth and a citizen in the exercise of his or her rights;
  2. A layman or a laywoman;
  3. Over thirty years old.

Article 132

The following may not be elected President or Vice President:
  1. The President who has served as such during any period, or a Vice President or whoever has replaced him, serving during most of the constitutional term.
  2. (As amended by Law No. 4349, July 11, 1969. See also the Transitory Provisions.)
  3. A Vice President who has held such status during the twelve months preceding the election, and any person who, acting as such, may have occupied the Presidency for any period during such term;
  4. Any ancestor or descendant by consanguinity or affinity or sibling of the person occupying the Presidency of the Republic at the time of the election, or of any person who has held such office for any period during the six months preceding that date;
  5. Anyone who has been a Cabinet Minister during the twelve months prior to the date of the election;
  6. The regular Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice, the regular and alternate Justices of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Director of the Civil Registry, the Directors or Managers of autonomous institutions, the Comptroller General of the Republic and the Assistant Comptroller.
  7. This disqualification includes persons who have held said positions within twelve months before the date of the elections.
Article 133

The election for President and Vice Presidents shall be held on the first Sunday of February of the year in which these officials are to be elected.

Article 134

The presidential term shall be four years. The actions of public officials and private individuals that violate the principle of alternation in the Presidential office or of free presidential succession, as set forth in this Constitution, will imply treason to the Republic. The liability derived from such actions shall not be subject to any statute of limitations.

Article 135

There shall be two Vice Presidents of the Republic, who shall replace the President during his permanent absence, in the order of their nomination. During his temporary absence, the President may call upon either Vice President to replace him.

If neither Vice President can fill the temporary or permanent absence of the President, the position shall be held by the President of the Legislative Assembly.

Article 136

The President and the Vice Presidents of the Republic shall take office on the eighth day of May; and upon completion of their constitutional term in office, their functions shall cease.

Article 137

The President and the Vice Presidents shall take an oath before the Legislative Assembly; but if they cannot do it before the Assembly, they shall do so before the Supreme Court of Justice.

Article 138

The President and Vice Presidents shall be elected simultaneously and by a majority vote that exceeds forty percent of the total number of validly cast votes.

The candidates for President and Vice Presidents of one party shall appear in a single ticket, to the exclusion of any other official to be elected.

If none of the tickets attains said majority, a second popular election shall be held on the first Sunday of April of the same year between the two tickets that received the highest number of votes, being elected the one that obtains more votes in the second election.

If at any election two tickets obtain an equal number of sufficient votes, the oldest candidate shall be considered elected as President, and the Vice Presidents shall be the candidates in the same ticket.

Citizens included in a ticket already registered in accordance with the law may not withdraw their candidacy for President or Vice President, nor may candidates of the tickets that received the highest number of votes in a first election refrain from running in the second election.

Chapter II
Powers and Duties of the Executive Branch

Article 139

The following are the exclusive powers and duties of the occupant of the Presidency of the Republic:
  1. To freely appoint and remove Cabinet Ministers;
  2. To represent the Nation in acts of an official nature;
  3. To hold the supreme command of the law enforcement forces;
  4. To present to the Legislative Assembly, at the beginning of each annual period of sessions, a written message concerning the various matters of the Administration and the political situation of the Republic, in which he shall also propose any measures he may deem important to the proper conduct of the Government and the progress and well being of the nation.
  5. Whenever he proposes to go out of the country, to previously inform the motives of his trip to the Legislative Assembly.
  6. (As amended this subsection by Law No. 7674, of June 17, 1997)
Article 140

The following are joint powers and duties of the President and the appropriate Cabinet Minister:
  1. To freely appoint and remove members of the law enforcement forces, employees and officials who hold positions of trust, and others as determined in very qualified cases by the Civil Service Law;
  2. To appoint and remove, subject to the prior requirements of the Civil Service Law, all other employees of their offices;
  3. To sanction and enact the laws, regulate and enforce them and see to their strict compliance;
  4. During the period of adjournment of the Legislative Assembly, to order the suspension of the rights and guarantees to which subsection 7) of Article 121 refers, in the same instances and with the same limitations as established therein, and to report it immediately to the Assembly.
  5. A decree of suspension of guarantees is equivalent, ipso facto, to a call of the Assembly, which shall meet within the next forty-eight hours. If the Assembly does not confirm the measure by a two-thirds vote of its entire membership, the guarantees shall be considered duly reestablished.
  6. If the Assembly is unable to meet due to lack of quorum, it shall do so the following day with any number of members. In this event, the decree of the Executive Branch requires the approval by a vote of no less than two thirds of the attending members;
  7. To exercise the initiative in the enactment of laws and the right of veto;
  8. To maintain order and tranquility in the Nation; to take such measures as may be necessary to safeguard public liberties;
  9. To provide for the collection and expenditure of the national revenues according to law;
  10. To supervise the proper operation of administrative services and agencies;
  11. To execute and enforce all resolutions and provisions on matters within their jurisdiction entered and issued by the Courts of Justice and electoral organizations, at their request;
  12. To enter into and subscribe agreements, public treaties and accords, and enact and execute them following their approval by the Legislative Assembly or by a Constitutional Assembly, when such an approval is required by this Constitution.
  13. Protocols derived from such public treaties or international agreements that do not require legislative approval shall enter into force as soon as they are promulgated by the Executive Branch. (As amended by Law No. 4123, May 31, 1968.)
  14. To submit to the Legislative Assembly such reports as it may request in exercise of the powers vested in it;
  15. To direct the international relations of the Republic;
  16. To receive Heads of State and diplomatic representatives and admit the Consuls from other nations;
  17. To convoke the Legislative Assembly for regular and extraordinary sessions;
  18. To send to the Legislative Assembly the proposed National Budget at the time and in accordance with the requirements set forth in this Constitution;
  19. To dispose of the law enforcement forces to preserve the order, defense, and security of the country;
  20. To issue navigation licenses;
  21. To issue suitable Regulations for the internal operation of their offices as well as other regulations and ordinances as required for the prompt application of the laws;
  22. To subscribe the administrative contracts not included in subsection 14) of Article 121 of this Constitution, but with the requirement of submitting them to the approval of the Legislative Assembly when they provide for exemption from taxes or duties, or when their purpose is the exploitation of public services, or the natural wealth or resources of the State.
  23. The legislative approval of these contracts does not give them the nature of laws nor does it exempt them from being under their legal administrative regime. The provisions contained in this subsection are not applicable to the loans or other similar agreements to which subsection 15) of Article 121 refers, which are governed by their special rules. (As added by Article 2 of Law No. 5702, June 5, 1975.)
  24. To comply with any other duties and exercise any other powers vested in them by this Constitution and the laws.
Chapter III
Cabinet Ministers

Article 141

There shall be the Cabinet Ministers established by law for the management of the matters pertaining to the Executive Branch. One Minister may be in charge of two or more Ministries.

Article 142

In order to be a Minister, it is required to:
  1. Be a citizen in the exercise of his or her rights;
  2. Be a Costa Rican by birth, or else by naturalization with ten years' residence
  3. in the country after naturalization;
  4. Be a layman or a laywoman;
  5. Be at least twenty-five years old.

Article 143

The office of Minister is not compatible with the exercise of any other public position, by popular election or otherwise, except when special laws establish additional duties for them. The rules, prohibitions and sanctions set forth in Articles 110, 111, and 112 of this Constitution are applicable to Ministers when appropriate.
Vice Presidents of the Republic may hold office as Ministers.

Article 144

Cabinet Ministers shall submit to the Legislative Assembly every year, within the first fifteen days of the first period of regular sessions, a report on matters that concern their Ministries.

Article 145

The Cabinet Ministers may attend sessions of the Legislative Assembly at any time, with the right to speak but not to vote, and are required to do so when ordered by the Assembly.

Article 146

The decrees, resolutions and orders of the Executive Branch require the signatures of the President of the Republic and the appropriate Minister in order to be valid, and in addition, in those cases set forth by this Constitution, the approval of the Government Council.
The signature of the President of the Republic shall be sufficient for appointment and removal of Ministers.

Chapter IV
The Government Council

Article 147

The Government Council is composed of the President of the Republic and the Ministers, being presided over by the former, to perform the following functions:
  1. To request from the Legislative Assembly a declaration of a state of national defense and authorization to order military recruitment, organize the army and negotiate peace;
  2. To exercise the right of pardon in the manner established by law;
  3. To appoint and remove the Diplomatic Representatives of the Republic;
  4. To appoint the directors of autonomous institutions when such appointments are a duty of the Executive Branch;
  5. To take care of any other matters submitted by the President of the Republic who, if the gravity of any matter so requires, may invite other persons to participate in the deliberations of the Council in a consultative position
Chapter V
Responsibility of the Persons Exercising the Executive Power

Article 148

The President of the Republic shall be responsible for his exercise of those powers vested exclusively to him under this Constitution.

Each Cabinet Minister shall be jointly responsible with the President for the exercise of powers that this Constitution vests in both. The responsibility for the acts of the Government Council shall extend to all those who voted to adopt the resolution in question.

Article 149

The President of the Republic and any Cabinet Minister who have been involved in any of the acts listed below, shall also be jointly responsible:
  1. If these acts in any way compromise the freedom, the political independence or the territorial integrity of the Republic;
  2. If they directly or indirectly prevent or hinder popular elections or violate the principles of alternation in the office of the Presidency or of free presidential succession, or the freedom, order or purity of suffrage;
  3. If they prevent or hinder the functions of the Legislative Assembly or restrict its freedom and independence;
  4. 4. If they refuse to publish or execute the laws or any other legislative acts;
  5. If they prevent or hinder the functions of the Judicial Branch or restrict the freedom of the Courts to judge cases submitted to their decision, or if they in any way hinder the functions of electoral bodies or the Municipal Governments;
  6. In any other case in which by action or omission may the Executive Branch violate a specific law.
Article 150

The responsibility of the occupant of the Presidency of the Republic and of Cabinet Ministers for facts not involving any crime may be claimed only while they are in office and for one year after their functions cease.

Article 151

The President, the Vice Presidents of the Republic or whoever is occupying the Presidency, may not be prosecuted or tried except when, after impeachment proceedings, the Legislative Assembly declares that there are grounds for initiating criminal proceedings.