The Federated States of Micronesia is an island nation that includes 607 islands located in the western Pacific Ocean. The islands are organized into four states: Yap, Pohnpei, Chuuk (Truk), and Kosrae, and it operates under a federal democratic government. In this federation, the president serves as both the chief of state and government. The federation operates within the confines of the 1979 Constitution and the 1986 Compact of Free Association with the United States. The agreement established Micronesia as an independent and sovereign federation as opposed to its previous status as a trust territory of the United States. The federation has no political parties, and all political aspirants run as independent candidates. The states exist as decentralized units with their own constitutions, courts, judiciary, and legislatures. Each state is divided into cities and municipalities.
The Constitution of Micronesia
The Constitution of Micronesia was drafted in 1975 and adopted in 1979 as the supreme law in the federation. The constitution follows the model of the United States Constitution, and therefore grants separation of power between the various government branches, and guarantees fundamental human rights and freedoms. The constitution defines the structure of the government and responsibilities of civil servants. Universal suffrage in the federation is granted to all citizens above 18 years of age. The constitution was amended once in 1990. Constitutional amendment motions in the 21st century have been rejected.
Executive Branch of Government
The executive branch of Micronesia consists of the president and the cabinet. The cabinet is composed of the vice president and eight departmental heads. The president and the vice president are appointees of the legislature and eligible for four-year terms in office. The presidential tenure is renewable for an unlimited number of times. The president then appoints cabinet members from the legislature after consultations with congress. The president is the head of the executive and the vice president serving as deputy.
Legislative Branch of Government
The congress, a fourteen-member body, serves as the legislative branch of Micronesia. Four senators are elected from each of the states to serve four-year terms. The other ten senators are elected by proportional representation of the population from each state to serve for two-year terms. The congress appoints the president and the vice president and approves executive decisions, such as the appointment of officials in the cabinet and judiciary.
Judicial Branch of Government
The Federated States of Micronesia are based on a legal system that combines aspects of common and customary laws. The supreme court is the highest legal body operating in the federation. The chief justice, an appointee of the president, serves as the head of the supreme court until death. Also part of the supreme court is a maximum of five associate judges. Each state has a state court whose structure and composition is defined by statutes of the particular state. State courts are subordinate to the federal supreme court.
The Federation of Micronesia engages in diplomatic relation with other countries and international bodies. The federation is in free association with the United States and has an embassy in Washington, DC. The federation is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, UN, WHO, and has relations with the Holy See, the European Union, China, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Zealand, and Japan.