The Marquesas Islands do not have a provincial or regional assembly. Administratively, they form a deconcentrated subdivision of both the French central State and the government of French Polynesia. As a deconcentrated subdivision of the French central State, the Marquesas Islands form the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas (French: subdivision administrative des Marquises), one of French Polynesia's five administrative subdivisions. The head of the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas is the administrateur d'État ("State administrator"), generally simply known as administrateur, also sometimes called chef de la subdivision administrative ("head of the administrative subdivision"). The administrateur is a civil servant under the authority of the
High Commissioner of the French Republic in French Polynesia in Papeete. The administrateur and his staff sit in Taiohae, on the island of Nuku Hiva, which has become the administrative capital of the Marquesas Islands, having replaced Atuona on the island of Hiva ʻOa, which was previously the capital.
Acting as the representative of the French central State and delegate of Papeete's High Commissioner, the administrateur of the Marquesas is in charge of:
- Offering legal advice to the communes (municipalities) of the Marquesas and verifying the legality of decisions made by the communes
- Issuing official documents (ID cards, driving licences, etc.), applying immigration rules, organising elections
- Managing security (coordination of gendarmerie forces, handling of major crises such as natural disasters, etc.)
- Overseeing public services of the French central State in the Marquesas Islands (such as the correctional facility on Nuku Hiva)
As a deconcentrated subdivision of the government of French Polynesia, the Marquesas Islands form the circonscription des Marquises ("district of the Marquesas"), one of French Polynesia's four circonscriptions ("districts") created in 2000 by the Assembly of French Polynesia to serve as deconcentrated subdivisions of the government of French Polynesia in the islands away from Tahiti and Moorea. The head of the circonscription des Marquises is the tavana hau, known as administrateur territorial in French ("territorial administrator"), but the Tahitian title tavana hau is most often used. The tavana hau is the direct representative of the president of French Polynesia's government who appoints him. The tavana hau and his staff sit in Taiohae on Nuku Hiva, same as the State administrator.
The tavana hau is in charge of:
- Coordinating the work of French Polynesian administrations in the Marquesas Islands (such as the French Polynesian administrations in charge of roads, fisheries, etc.)
- Ensuring the enforcement of acts passed by the Assembly of French Polynesia and decisions taken by the government of French Polynesia
- Evaluating the performance of French Polynesian civil servants and sending the evaluations to the responsible ministries in Papeete
- Acting as a liaison between the local population and the government of French Polynesia in Papeete
The Marquesas Islands also form the electoral district of the Marquesas Islands, one of French Polynesia's six electoral districts for the Assembly of French Polynesia (see also Politics of French Polynesia).
Communes of the Marquesas Islands
The Marquesas Islands are subdivided in six communes (municipalities). In each of the six communes the local residents elect a municipal council and a mayor in charge of managing local affairs within the commune. Three communes (Nuku-Hiva, Ua-Pou, and Hiva-Oa) are further subdivided into associated communes due to their larger population. The communes and associated communes are the only elected councils in the Marquesas since there does not exist a provincial or regional assembly for the entire archipelago. Municipal elections are held every six years on the same day as municipal elections in the rest of France (see French municipal elections, 2014 for the last municipal elections).
The areas and populations of the communes at the 2012 Census were as follows: