Legislative authority is shared between the executive (consisting of the President, Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers) and the bicameral parliament consisting of the Senate (upper house) and the Mazhilis (lower house).
The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The president appoints the Prime Minister (who serves as head of government) and the Council of Ministers. Nursultan Nazarbayev has ruled as President since independence in 1991. While in office, he has passed a number of Presidential Decrees expanding executive authority.
The Senate has 47 members, 32 of whom are elected to four-year terms from local assemblies (two from each of the 14 defined regions, and the cities of Astana and Almaty); the President appoints the remaining 15. In the Mazhilis, there are 107 deputies, of whom 98 are elected from parties and 9 are elected by the People’s Assembly. Mazhilis deputies serve for five-year terms. The last election was held in March 2016, the next is expected in 2020.
The executive branch initiates most draft legislation. If both houses of parliament pass a bill that the president vetoes, a two-thirds majority in both houses are necessary to override the veto.