by Philip Stöver*
The Melanesian archipelago state of Vanuatu, consisting of some 80 islands, is located in the Southwest Pacific, approximately 1300 miles Northeast of Sydney. Having been under French and British co-administration as the Condominium of the New Hebrides from 1906, Vanuatu became in independent Republic on 30 July 1980. The co-administration did not only create a bilingual society, but also originated a main political cleavage between the Anglophone majority and the Francophone minority of the population. Despite a tendency to fragmentation since the early 1990s, this linguistic cleavage has structured the Vanuatu party system since the first general and competitive elections, held in 1975.
The colonial history of Vanuatu began in the 19th century with the arrival on the islands of French and British traders, settlers and missionaries. With the Condominium of 1906, France and Great Britain established formal administrative power, with the British High Commissioner of the Western Pacific and the French Gouverneur de la Nouvelle Calédonie et dépendence representing their national governments. The Protocol of 1914 for the Government of the Islands remained the basis for the unique form of joint government until 1980. The Condominium provided for separate governmental systems, currencies and budgets, linked only by a joint judicial authority. During this time, the ni-Vanuatu, as the Melanesian islanders are called, were excluded from administrative positions and political participation.
The first moves toward ni-Vanuatu participation in the administration of public affairs came in 1957, with the establishment of an Advisory council with consultative functions. In response to continuous and