The Lao People’s Democratic Republic came into existence on 20th December 1975 after a ’30 year struggle’ against the French and then the independent Kingdom of Laos. The formation of this new communist republic ended 600 years of monarchy.
The new regime has one political party, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.
The country has a President as head of state, a Council of Ministers presided over by the Prime Minister and a Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA).
The first elections of the SPA took place in 1989 for a 79 member assembly. Their first role was to ratify a new constitution which came in to force in August 1991.
In 1992 the National Assembly, as the parliament is known, was expanded to 85 seats, then to 99 seats in 1997 and in 2002 further elections were held for a 109 seat assembly. In 2006, the last elections were held for 115 seats.
In February 2011, the assembly was expanded again to a 132 seat assembly. All candidates have to be endorsed by the ruling party.
In 1986 there was a gradual return to private enterprise and opening to foreign direct investment. This has seen a steady growth in the economy, but Laos is still one of the poorest countries in Asia with a third of the population below the poverty line.
There has been no tolerance towards the idea of a relaxation in the political structure of the country.
The President and Vice President are elected by the National Assembly for five year terms.
The unicameral National Assembly has 132 seats with members elected from a list of candidates selected by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party to serve five year terms.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Laos at joint 123rd out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 30 (where 100 is least corrupt).