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State structure

The Republic of Yemen was formed on 22 May 1990 by the merger of North and South Yemen. Yemen has a democratic system with a parliament consisting of 301 directly elected members. The first parliamentary elections were held in 1997. Currently, 21 parties are active. Since the parliamentary elections of May 2003, five parties have been represented in Parliament: the ruling General People's Congress (GPC, 229 seats), the conservative Islamic Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah, 45), the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP, 7), the Nasirist Unionists (3) and the Baath Party (2). The parliament also includes 14 'independents'.

According to the constitution, presidential elections must be held every 5 years. After being re-elected by parliament in 1994, the president was directly re-elected by the people for the first time in September 1999. However, the 2004 elections were postponed until 2006. The head of state appoints the prime minister, the cabinet and the Consultative Council made up of influential citizens. The president can rule by decree. Decrees must be approved by parliament, but practice shows that they sometimes enter into force without parliamentary approval. The Shari'a is the most important source of legislation, but in practice it is mainly significant in the area of personal and family law. With the first local elections in February 2001, an important step was taken towards democratic control of the decentralised state administration.


Yemen's political landscape is very complex and volatile. Personal ties and tribal backgrounds play an important role in the political system. Notable opposition groups without parliamentary representation are the League of the Sons of Yemen (Rabita - mainly southern intellectuals) and El Haq (a religious party, of which rebel leader Al-Houthi was a member). The National Opposition Front, in exile in London since the civil war, has been somewhat forgotten, especially since the government's 2003 amnesty.

In addition to the tensions between government and opposition parties, attempts to implement the World Bank and IMF reform package have led to violent opposition and clashes with the population. In particular, attempts to abolish subsidies for some basic products and diesel oil have met with much resistance. In addition, the dissatisfaction of tribal groups with the way the government deals with them, or with the way certain conflicts are (not) being solved, also manifested itself in violent actions such as blowing up oil pipelines, car thefts and kidnappings of foreigners. In recent years, kidnapping of foreigners has been rare. Recently, the government has tightened its grip on the carrying of weapons in the cities; the punishment for kidnapping has been greatly increased.

The current political situation is described in the history section.


The economy of Yemen has a dual character, oriented towards oil and agriculture. Crude oil and oil products account for 90% of exports. However, both oil reserves and exploitation possibilities lag far behind those of neighbouring countries; gas discoveries require large investments. It is estimated that one-third to one-half of the labour force is unemployed (effectively 'underemployed'), while Yemen has a severe shortage of skilled labour. In addition to the formal economy, there is a large informal economy.

(Since reunification in 1990, Yemen has suffered a large number of setbacks. The two Gulf Wars, the low oil price for a number of years and the civil war in 1994 have had a strong negative impact on economic development. The government recognises the economic problems and is negotiating a new adjustment programme with the IMF. The government's objectives were the reduction of the budget deficit, trade reforms (deregulation), the downsizing and decentralisation of the public administration and privatisation. The policy is beginning to bear fruit in the macroeconomic field, but deregulation and privatisation are making little progress.

The current conflict is having a disastrous impact on the economy. Here are some key figures from 2017. GDP per capita is extremely low at $2,500. Growth has been negative for years, currently around -6%. More than half of the population lives below the poverty line.


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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