Is diversity of political representation possible in Vanuatu?

By Anna Naupa and Nick Howlett

Part 2 of a 3-part series on Vanuatu’s Electoral Integrity
Vanuatu’s women deserve better political representation. Source: Vanuatu Department of Women’s Affairs

Vanuatu’s women deserve better political representation. Photo: Vanuatu Department of Women’s Affairs

< Read Part 1: ‘Ghostbusters: it’s time to deal with Vanuatu’s phantom voters’

Read Part 3: ‘Is dual citizenship a threat to Vanuatu? No, but unregulated political financing is’ >

VANUATU’S NATIONAL ELECTIONS give citizens the opportunity to shape the nation’s future through their choice of political representation. Electoral boundaries and the total number of constituencies have shifted over the years in response to demographic changes. A recent media report suggested that electorates will be again be modified sometime before 2020. Today, there are 52 seats in the national parliament, with MPs drawn from most of Vanuatu’s different islands.

However, this seeming diversity masks the lack of representation of different demographic groupings within Parliament: women, young people, people with disability, religious minorities and other groups that are not part of the mostly male political elite are effectively excluded. The omission of a significant proportion of the population disadvantages Vanuatu’s national development, because their contributions and needs are left out of the political debate. Read the rest of this entry »