Dublon Island, Chuuk, Micronesia. Parliamentary elections in Micronesia are due in March 2021. Photo credit: Flickr/Matt Kieffer (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Freedom House Rating
Federal Republic in free association with the U.S.
March 2, 2021
March 5, 2019
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM, or simply Micronesia) will hold parliamentary elections on March 2, 2021. Voters will elect 10 out of 14 members of Congress to two-year terms.
FSM consists of four states – Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – comprising a total of 607 islands in the western Pacific. Each state elects one member – senators – to Congress to a four-year term, while the other 10 members represent smaller districts and serve two-year terms. Thus parliamentary elections in Micronesia take place every two years. The four at-large senators the choose the president.
There aren’t political parties in FSM, but there are also no restrictions on forming them. Likewise, citizens can freely elect their representatives and change their government. For example, in the 2019 elections, President Peter Christian, lost his senate seat, and as a result, the presidency. In short, Micronesia elections are mostly free and fair.
Administered by the United States after World War II, FSM became independent in 1986. It is a sovereign country in free association with the United States, similar to the status of the nearby Marshall Islands and Palau. The United States provides financial aid to FSM and free movement within the United States for FSM citizens, and in exchange, the United States military can operate in FSM territory.
Chuuk state, Micronesia’s most populous state, is planning to hold a referendum on independence. The referendum – originally set for 2015 – has been postponed several times. Some politicians in Chuuk object to the way United States funding is distributed, and therefore are calling to secede. Meanwhile, China has been increasing its presence and influence in the entire region, including Chuuk.
Political analyst Adam Kiedrowski notes: “Chuuk is a strategic area militarily; it contains one of the deepest lagoons in the Pacific, which was a Japanese naval stronghold during World War II. China is looking to gain a strategic foothold in the Pacific region and has been making attempts to gain Chuuk’s favor, with Beijing paying $50 million for the China Railway Construction Corporation to build roads in Chuuk along with contributing $2 million to Micronesia’s trust fund.” Importantly, Chuuk is close to American military facilities in Guam.
Moreover, in February 2021, FSM – along with four other Micronesian countries – quit the Pacific Islands Forum, the main regional body. This has implications for the balance of power in the region.
Foreign Brief (March 2, 2021): Elections for Congress in the Federated States of Micronesia
Alexander B. Gray, The Hill (February 16, 2021): Why a crisis in the Pacific islands matters for Washington and Beijing
Cleo Paskal, The Diplomat (February 10, 2021): How the Pacific Islands Forum Fell Apart
ABC News Australia (February 8, 2021): Micronesian nations to quit Pacific’s peak regional body, leaving it in disarray
RNZ (February 29, 2020): Chuuk independence referendum postponed until 2022
Adam Kiedrowski, The Diplomat (February 14, 2020): Chuuk State’s Delayed Independence Vote Approaches
Oyaol Ngirairikl, Guam Daily Post (March 14, 2019): FSM President Christian loses bid for re-election
Pacific Island Times (March 11, 2019): FSM elections certified: Peter Christian loses seat to Panuelo
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Updated March 2, 2021