Northern Mariana Islands: Government#

Country nameconventional long form: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
conventional short form: Northern Mariana Islands
abbreviation: CNMI
former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Mariana Islands District
CapitalSaipan Saipan
geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Dependency statuscommonwealth in political union with the US; federal funds to the Commonwealth administered by the US Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs
Administrative divisionsnone (commonwealth in political union with the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are four municipalities at the second order: Northern Islands, Rota, Saipan, Tinian
Constitutionpartially effective 1 January 1978 (Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); fully effective 4 November 1986 (Covenant Agreement); amended several times, last in 2012 (2012)
Executive branchchief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
head of government: Governor Eloy S. INOS (since 20 February 2013); Lieutenant Governor Jude U. HOFSCHNEIDER (since 20 February 2013)
cabinet: the cabinet consists of the heads of the 10 principal departments under the executive branch who are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate; other members include special assistants to the governor and office heads appointed by and reporting directly to the governor
elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in the Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 November 2009 with a run-off election held on 23 November 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Benigno R. FITIAL reelected governor in a run-off election held 23 November 2009; percent of vote - Benigno R. FITIAL 51.4%, Heinz HOFSCHNEIDER 48.6%
note: Benigno R. FITIAL was impeached by House of Representatives on 11-12 February 2013 and resigned on 20 February 2013; Eloy INOS was sworn in as governor the same day
Flag descriptionblue, with a white, five-pointed star superimposed on a gray latte stone (the traditional foundation stone used in building) in the center, surrounded by a wreath; blue symbolizes the Pacific Ocean, the star represents the Commonwealth; the latte stone and the floral head wreath display elements of the native Chamorro culture
Independencenone (commonwealth in political union with the US)
Judicial branchhighest court(s): Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands or CNMI (consists of the chief justice and 2 associate justices); US Federal District Court (consists of 1 judge); note - US Federal District Court jurisdiction limited to US federal laws
note - appeals beyond the Northern Mariannas Islands Supreme Court are referred to the US Supreme Court
judge selection and term of office: judges of the Supreme Court of the CNMI appointed by the governor and confirmed by the CNMI Senate; judges appointed for 8-year terms and can serve another term if approved through voter election; US Federal District Court judges appointed by the US president and confirmed by the US Senate; judges appointed for renewable 10-year terms
subordinate courts: Superior Court
Legal systemUS system applies, except for customs, wages, immigration laws, and taxation
Legislative branchbicameral legislature consists of the Senate (9 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year staggered terms) and the House of Representatives (20 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2014); House of Representatives - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2014)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Covenant Party 3, Republican Party 3, Democratic Party 1, independents 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 4, Covenant Party 3, independents 13
note: the Northern Mariana Islands elects one nonvoting delegate to the US House of Representatives; election last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2014); seats by party - independent 1
International organization participationSPC, UPU
National holidayCommonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)
Political pressure groups and leadersNA
Political parties and leadersCovenant Party (Benigno R. FITIAL)
Democratic Party (Dr. Carlos S. CAMACHO)
Republican Party (Juan S. REYES)
Suffrage18 years of age; universal; note - indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Government typecommonwealth; self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature
National anthemname: "Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi" (In the Middle of the Sea)
lyrics/music: Jose S. PANGELINAN (Chamoru), David PETER (Carolinian)/Wilhelm GANZHORN
note: adopted 1996; the Carolinian version of the song is known as "Satil Matawal Pacifico;" as a commonwealth of the United States, in addition to the local anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)
National symbol(s)latte stone