The Federated States of Micronesia's 1990 Constitutional Convention: Calm before the Storm?

Petersen, Glenn
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University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
The Federated States of Micronesia's Constitutional Convention, held in 1990, served as a focus for a variety of discontents. Structural and ethnic tensions among the states of the federation, and between the states and the central government, were the most immediate sources of the 104 amendments proposed to the convention, but the original (1975) Micronesian Constitutional Convention's inability to define either the federation's future political relationship with the United States or the degree of power to be vested in its central government also loomed large as sources of discontent. The vast majority of the proposed amendments were intended to shift power or funds, or both, from the central government to the states, but delegates to the 1990 convention participated almost entirely as representatives of their respective states, rather than on behalf of the nation-state as a whole, and competing sectional interests kept them from achieving any significant agreement. Only four amendments were ultimately approved in the general referendum. Despite this apparent lack of movement toward significant change, the history of the 1990 convention suggests that the Federated States of Micronesia is troubled by an array of fracture lines and will find itself confronted with increasing stresses as it approaches the end of its Compact of Free Association with the United States in 2001.
Petersen, G. 1994. The Federated States of Micronesia's 1990 Constitutional Convention: Calm before the Storm? The Contemporary Pacific 6 (2): 337-69.
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