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Marshall Islands Political System

Political system

The Republic of Marshall Islands became independent from the US administration in 1986, but got its own constitution as early as 1979. It provides that the country should have a parliamentary governing state, in which citizens elect a parliament which in turn elects a president. A democratic political system is something relatively new to the Marshallese and it is combined with the traditional, hierarchical culture of the islands.

The President of the Marshall Islands has the executive power and is both head of state and government. The President is appointed by Parliament for a four-year term (see below). Virtually all presidents have belonged to the traditional aristocracy of chieftains. The president, in turn, appoints the government members who must also be members of parliament.

  • Countryaah: Total population and chart of Marshall Islands for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.

The legislative power lies with a single-chamber parliament (nitijela), whose 33 members (senators) are elected in general elections every four years. For questions about land ownership and customary law, there is an advisory upper house (iroij) consisting of twelve chieftains. The voting age is 18 years.

Marshall Islands relations with the United States are regulated in the Compact of Free Association agreement of 1986. The agreement states that the Marshall Islands are independent but that the United States is responsible for the country's defense and security. The United States has the right to establish military bases on the islands and prevent other states from doing the same. The United States pledges to make an annual financial contribution to the Marshall Islands. The agreement gives marshalles the right to study, work and reside in the United States without special permission (read more about the agreement in Foreign Policy and Defense).

Political System of Marshall IslandsPolitical parties

There are no formal political parties in the Marshall Islands, but there are political groups that in many ways function as parties. However, the party groupings have no formal party programs, but rather gather around special interests or customer affiliation. The most important are the United Democratic Party (United Democratic Party, UDP), Our Islands Party (Our Islands Party / Ailin Kein Ad, OIP), United People's Party (United People's Party) and Your Government (Kien Eo Am, Your Government).


The state justice system has much in common with the American. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court (Supreme Court) and under it it sorts district and local courts. In addition, there is a special court for local customary law (Traditional Rights Court), for example for land rights disputes. Human rights are very much respected by the government, but the Marshall Islands have problems with corruption, violence against women and children, poor conditions in prisons and a weak labor law. The death penalty was abolished in 1986.

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