Vanuatu is a democratic republic with two spheres of government: national and local. Both local government and decentralisation are enshrined in the constitution and the main governing legislation is the Decentralisation and Local Government Regions Act 1994. The Department of Local Authorities within the Ministry of Home Affairs is responsible for overseeing local government, which comprises six provincial councils and three municipal councils.
In 2013, the Vanuatu Parliament passed a historic amendment to the Municipalities Act, providing for reserved seats for women in the municipal councils. The quota provision is regarded as a ‘special temporary measure’ and will be implemented for the first time in the Port Vila Municipal Council elections scheduled to take place in December 2013. The Port Vila Municipal Council has 14 seats, 13 of which are currently occupied by male councillors. In the forthcoming elections, five seats will be reserved for women candidates who will be elected from a separate ballot. A female candidate can either contest a reserved seat or a general seat in a ward.