Vanuatu heads to legislative election; new government likely

The Pacific nation of Vanuatu will go to the polls today to elect its 52-member parliament. Electoral participation is expected

vanuatu election

Photo: Graham Crumb

The Pacific nation of Vanuatu will go to the polls today to elect its 52-member parliament.

Electoral participation is expected to be low due to regional fears of COVID-19. This election is the first since 2016, when current Prime Minister Charlot Salwai came to power after a corruption scandal in 2015 forced the resignation of 15 MPs. While Salwai is the first PM to successfully complete a four-year term in a decade, his coalition government is highly likely to shift.

As the parties are mainly centred around individuals and coalitions are generally formed out of expedience, even a radical shift in parties represented in parliament is unlikely to affect the country’s core agenda, which includes combatting climate change and developing inter-Pacific ties.

If Salwai can remain at the core of the country’s government for an additional term, it may send a message of newfound stability to Vanuatu’s neighbouring Pacific nations. This may give Port Vila more credibility in urging Australia to commit to more aggressive reductions of greenhouse gas emissions when Vanuatu hosts the Pacific Islands Forum in August.

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