Vanuatu Government and Politics
State and politics
Vanuatu is, according to the 1980 constitution, a democratic republic. The president is the head of state and is appointed for a period of five years by parliament and the presidents of the country’s regional councils. The president mainly has representative duties. Tallis Obed Moses (born circa 1954) has been president since 2017. All heads of state since independence have been men.
Parliament has the legislative power, and its 52 members are elected in general elections every four years. The Council of Ministers (the Government) is the Executive and is chaired by the Prime Minister appointed by Parliament. The National Council of Chiefs has an advisory function in matters relating to traditional culture and land ownership. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of VU and its meanings of Vanuatu.
Two parties existed at independence in 1980 – the Socialist and Nationalist Vanua’aku Pati (VP), supported mainly by English speakers, and the French-oriented Conservative Union Union des parti modérés (UPM; English Union of Moderate Parties, UMP). These have since been divided and several other parties have also joined. Power struggles between individual politicians have also led to turbulent political conditions with recurring statements of confidence and the shift in the Prime Minister’s post.
In the 2012 parliamentary elections, VP received eight seats, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) six seats and UPM five seats. After negotiations, PPP leader Sato Kilman (born 1957), who was already prime minister, then formed a coalition government. However, he was forced to step down the following year and a new head of government became the leader of Green Confederation (GC) Moana Carcasses Kalosil (born 1959). In 2014, that government also fell in a vote of no confidence after accusations of buying votes, and Carcasses Kalosil was replaced by VP leader Joe Natuman (born 1952). Sato Kilman returned as head of government in 2015 after the ninth shift in the Prime Minister’s post for seven years.
The split parliamentary situation consisted of the 2016 election when 17 parties and eight independent candidates were elected. Parliament appointed Charlot Salwai (born 1963), leader of the small party Reunification of Movements for Change (RMC), as new prime minister and he formed a broad coalition government. After the 2016 election, Parliament completely lacked female members.
From time to time as a British-French condominium, Vanuatu has inherited both English and French law, which are formally equal. In practice, English-inspired law has been given an increasingly dominant role. Local custom is recognized in certain areas of law. The highest courts are the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
The death penalty was abolished in connection with the country’s independence in 1980.
Heads of State
|1980-89||Ati George Sokomanu|
|1989-94||Frederick Karlomuana Timakata|
|2017-||Tallis Obed Moses|