Constitution of Vanuatu

Status: Republic

Legislature: Parliament of Vanuatu

Independence: 30 July 1980

Vanuatu is a republic with a non-executive presidency. The president is elected by parliament together with the presidents of the regional councils and serves a five-year term. The single-chamber Parliament has 52 members, directly elected every four years by universal adult suffrage with an element of proportional representation. Parliament appoints the prime minister from among its members, and the prime minister appoints a council of ministers from among the MPs.

The constitution provides for a certain amount of decentralisation, intended to promote regional autonomy and local participation. In 1994, the 11 local councils were replaced by six provincial governments. The district councils of chiefs elect the National Council of Chiefs, which is consulted, and makes representations, on customary law and traditional factors affecting government.

In October 2004, parliament passed constitutional amendments designed to reduce political instability. These amendments included banning no-confidence votes in the first and last 12-month periods of a parliamentary term and, after the first 12 months of a term, required a by-election in any constituency where the member crossed the floor. Before taking effect these amendments were to be put to the electorate in a national referendum.