Georgia has been a democratic republic since a constitutional referendum in October 1995. The president, who is chief of state, is elected by popular vote and is limited to two five-year terms. A run-off between the top two contenders is required if the leading candidate does not obtain 50% of the vote. The presidential appointment of the prime minister, who is head of government, and who has to be confirmed through a vote of confidence in parliament, allows for strong unity between the two offices and enables the head of state to forge a dominant control over the political establishment. The prime minister heads an 18-member cabinet and holds the position of senior minister of the parliament.