Nauru is a republic with a parliamentary democracy. It has an executive president as head of state and government. The parliament elects a president from amongst its members.

Executive authority is vested in the cabinet, which is collectively responsible to parliament. The president appoints a cabinet of five or six members.

Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The unicameral parliament has 18 members who are elected by universal adult suffrage for a three-year term. Voting is compulsory for all citizens over 20, and it is mandatory for a parliamentary general election to be held not less than once every three years.

The 18 members of parliament represent eight constituencies. The number of representatives for each constituency is determined on the basis of population numbers. Nauru does not have a formal structure for political parties; most stand as independent candidates. Alliances within the government are often formed on the basis of extended family ties.

The constitution protects fundamental rights and freedoms. Special mention is made in the constitution of the allocation of profits and royalties from the sale of phosphate.

Land tenure in Nauru is unusual. Government and corporate entities do not own land and must enter into lease agreements. Non-Nauruans cannot own land.

The judiciary of Nauru is independent. The Supreme Court, which decides constitutional issues, is presided over by the chief justice and has original and appellate jurisdiction. The District Court, which hears civil and criminal cases and acts as the coroner, and the Family Court are both chaired by the magistrate.