Under the 1965 constitution, Botswana is a republic with an executive President chosen by the National Assembly for the concurrent five-year term. After the 2004 general election, the Assembly had 57 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage plus the President, Speaker, Attorney-General and four members nominated by the President. The 35-member Ntlo ya Dikgosi (formerly known as the House of Chiefs) advises on tribal matters; 30 of the members are elected by senior tribal authorities and five members appointed by the President.
The Botswana Democratic Party has ruled that the party leadership is only to be held by any one person for two full terms.
Substantive constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority of the Assembly and major amendments, a national referendum. Constitutional amendments approved in April 1997 retained the system by which the President is elected by parliament but allowed the Vice-President automatically to succeed in the event of the President’s death or resignation during his term of office. It also reduced the voting age from 21 to 18.
Local elections for the nine district councils, two city councils and four town councils are held – also on a party basis – simultaneously with general elections.
The October 1999 general election was won by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by Festus Mogae, taking 33 seats, with 57 per cent of the votes, while the Botswana National Front (BNF) held six seats, with 26 per cent of the votes. There was an increase in the numbers of female and younger parliamentarians.
At the elections of October 2004 the BDP won 44 of the 57 seats in the enlarged National Assembly, securing 52 per cent of the votes and Mogae was returned for a second term as President. The BNF took 12 seats and 26 per cent of the votes, and Botswana Congress Party (BCP), one seat and 17 per cent.
On Festus Mogae’s retirement in April 2008, Ian Khama (the son of former President Sir Seretse Khama) became the country’s fourth President. In October 2009, he led the BDP to victory in the general election, taking 45 seats and 53 per cent of the votes. The BNF took six seats (22 per cent), the BCP four (19 per cent), the Botswana Alliance Movement one (two per cent) and independents one. Khama was shortly afterwards sworn in again as President.
At the elections held on 24 October 2014, the BDP won 37 seats and 46.7 per cent of the votes, the Umbrella for Democratic Change 17 seats and 30.1 per cent and the BCP three seats and 20.4 per cent. President Khama was sworn in for another term of office on 28 October 2014.