Tuvalu is a parliamentary representative democratic monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, represented by a Governor General, and the Prime Minister as head of government. The current constitution was enacted in 1986 and amends a previous constitution adopted in 1978 upon independence. As there are no political parties, Tuvalu is a de facto non-partisan democracy.
The unicameral parliament follows the Westminster system of representative democracy, and has 15 members, each elected for a four-year term. The Prime Minister and Speaker of the Parliament are elected by these 15 members by secret ballot. Two members of parliament are elected by each of the seven larger islands (Funafuti, Nanumanga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Vaitupu) and one member of parliament is elected by Nukulaelae. The smallest island of Niulakita is represented by the members elected for Niutao. Up to half of the members of parliament, including the Prime Minister may be appointed to cabinet. The most recent general election was held in March 2015, with the next due to be held in 2019.
The legal system combines acts voted into law by the Parliament (and associated statutory instruments), acts passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom during the period in which Tuvalu was a British protectorate (1892-1916) or a British colony (1916-1978), common law and customary law. The latter is related particularly to land ownership.
Proposed laws are called bills and may be introduced in parliament by any member. After the session at which the bill was introduced, at the next session of parliament the bill has its first reading, after which the Clerk of Parliament circulates the bill to all local governments (known as Kaupule, the island council or executive branch of the Falekaupule, the traditional assembly of elders present on each island of Tuvalu), for consideration and comment. Exclusions to this procedure include appropriation bills or bills certified by the Prime Minister upon the advice of the cabinet to either be urgent or not of general public importance. Bills are passed through a majority vote where, excluding no confidence motions and constitutional amendments, the speaker has a casting vote. Upon presentation to the Head of State, bills are required to be promptly assented to, and subsequently become Acts of Parliament. Policies, action plans and strategies are written by the relevant government departments (often in conjunction with international organisations to provide capacity support) and then become guiding documents for government policy once signed off by the relevant minister.