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Politics of the Northern Mariana Islands

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Politics of the Northern Mariana Islands

Politics of the Northern Mariana Islands takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic system, whereby the Governor is head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. The Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth in political union with the United States. Executive power is exercised by the governor. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the legislature. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Local government is carried out through three regional mayors.


Map of Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands and the United States of America reached a Covenant Agreement which became fully effective on November 4, 1986. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands became effective on January 1, 1978.

Legislative branch

The Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 20 members, elected for a two-year term from seven districts. The Senate has 9 members, elected for a four-year term in two staggered classes.

Prior to January 2009, the Commonwealth maintained an elected "Resident Representative" in Washington, DC. As authorized by Pub.L. 110–229, the Commonwealth now elects a nonvoting delegate to the U.S. Congress (similar to other U.S. insular areas). The first election was held on November 4, 2008.

Judicial branch

Commonwealth Supreme Court; Superior Court; Federal District Court

Federal representation

In November 2008, the Northern Mariana Islands held its first election for a delegate to the United States Congress. Gregorio "Kilili" Sablan won the election, and began his term of office in January 2009. The delegate serves as a member to some House committees and may vote in those committees, but the delegate is not permitted to vote on bills up for vote among all members of the House.

International organization participation

ESCAP (associate), INTERPOL (subbureau), SPC

Political culture

Historically the Northern Mariana Islands have been subject to the colonizing powers of Spain, Germany, Japan, and the United States under a United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands Agreement. Each power contributed elements that mixed with local indigenous cultures to form the current political culture of the Northern Mariana Islands.

When United States citizenship was granted in 1986 to people who qualified as descendants of the Northern Marianas, few among the island's native population had been adequately prepared for democracy. As a result, politics in the Northern Mariana Islands is often "more a function of family relationships and personal loyalties" where the size of one's extended family is more important than a candidate's personal qualifications. Both scholarly works and the authors of the controversial website charge that this is nepotism carried out within the trappings of democracy.


Politics of the Northern Mariana Islands Wikipedia

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