What Type of Government Does Tuvalu Have?

The flag of Tuvalu.
The flag of Tuvalu.

Government of Tuvalu

Tuvalu is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, and was a British colony until it gained independence in 1878. Upon independence, the country's administration remained within the Commonwealth realm as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. These nations are connected by their shared acceptance of the United Kingdom's monarchy and its executive power. The government of Tuvalu is managed under the Westminster parliamentary system and is a representative democratic monarchy. A representative democracy means that the general public elects politicians to represent their interests, while the Westminster system takes its inspiration from the legislative framework of the United Kingdom. The government of Tuvalu has three separate branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.

Executive Branch of Government

The executive branch is made up of the monarch, governor-general, prime minister, and cabinet of ministers. The monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, acts as the head of state and symbol of unity for the country. As head of state, the monarch may issue executive orders, create laws, and command the military. In order to carry out these duties, the monarch appoints a governor-general, who is recommended by parliament, to act as a representative of the crown. The governor-general, as representative of the crown, has the power to call on parliament to assemble. Additionally, the governor-general appoints the prime minister and the cabinet of ministers. The prime minister of Tuvalu is elected by parliament and appointed by the governor-general to act as the head of government. This position recommends individuals for the cabinet of ministers to the governor-general for appointment. The prime minister works closely with the cabinet of ministers to ensure regulations and legislation are carried out correctly in each ministry.

Legislative Branch of Government

The legislative branch of government is carried out by the Parliament of Tuvalu. The parliament is a unicameral body is made up of 15 members. These members are elected by the general population on a basis of constituency. Each island of Tuvalu represents 1 constituency, with the exception of Niulakita Island, which is the smallest of the nation and included in the constituency of Niutao Island. Each island elects 2 representatives, except Nukulaelae Island, which elects 1 parliamentary representative. Members of parliament serve a 4-year term and are responsible for creating legislation for the country. Legislation is introduced to parliament for an initial review and, once approved, is presented to local level governments for review. Any amendments are passed for a second and third review by parliament before being sent to the governor-general for final approval as law.

Judicial Branch of Government

The judicial branch is made up of several courts, including land courts, island courts, magistrates court, and high court. The courts of first instance, land, and island courts are located on each island to serve the local populace. Any cases involving issues of land ownership are first seen by land courts, and can be appealed to the Land Courts Appeal Panel. Island court cases and those seen by the Land Courts Appeal Panel may appeal to the magistrates court if the value of the case is $10,000 or less. The high court is the highest court of appeals in the country and has total jurisdiction.


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