Freedom in the World
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Following March 2009 congressional elections, the government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) proposed an amendment to the constitution in May that would increase terms for representatives of single-member districts from two to four years. That same month, the FSM’sformer ambassador to the United States Jesse Marehalau was convicted of corruption.
Congressional elections held in March 2009 were deemed largely free and fair. Twenty-one independent candidates ran for the ten two-year term seats up for election; no women competed. In May, the government passed an amendment to the constitution that would give all representatives of Congress four-year terms; the amendment must be approved by voters in the 2011 election. Five candidates competed in a special election for one of the Pohnpei seats in October after its incumbent, Resio Moses, died suddenly in June.
The FSM is an electoral democracy. The unicameral, 14-member Congress has one directly elected representative, serving four-year terms, from each of the four constituent states, and 10 representatives directly elected for two-year terms from single-member districts. Chuuk state, home to nearly half of the FSM’s population, holds the largest number of congressional seats; this has been a source of resentment among the three smaller states. The president and vice president are chosen by Congress from among the four state representatives to serve four-year terms. By informal agreement, the two posts are rotated among the representatives of the four states. Emanuel Mori of Chuuk and Alik L. Alik of Kosrae were chosen as president and vice president, respectively, in 2007. Each state has its own constitution, elected legislature, and governor; the state governments have considerable power, particularly in budgetary matters. Traditional leaders and institutions exercise significant influence in society, especially at the village level.