State and politics
Tuvalu is a member of the Commonwealth. The head of state
is the monarch of the United Kingdom, represented in the
kingdom by a domestic governor-general. According to the
1978 Constitution, the legislative power lies with
Parliament, which has 15 members. These are elected every
four years in general, direct elections.
The government, which is made up of a prime minister and
up to four other ministers, is directly responsible to
Political parties do not exist, but the members of
parliament mainly represent the island they come from.
Decades after independence in 1978, two people dominated
political life: Tomasi Puapua (born 1938), who was prime
minister 1981–89 and general governor 1998–2003, and
Bikenibeu Paeniu (born 1956), prime minister 1989–93 and
1996–99. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how TV can stand for Tuvalu.
During the 2000s, the change of government has come
close, but the political turmoil has mostly been due to
conflicts on the personal level between the politicians.
Several heads of government have been dismissed following a
vote of no confidence in Parliament. This fate also hit
Willy Telavi (born 1958), who was deposed in 2013 and
replaced by Enele Sopoaga (born 1956). Sopoaga was able to
remain in office even after the elections in 2015. After
this election, 14 out of 15 MPs were men.
The legal system in Tuvalu is English-inspired. The
highest courts are the High Court and the Court
of Appeal, with some opportunities to appeal to the
Privy Council in London. The death penalty was
abolished in connection with the country's independence in