Government on the IOM

Be don’t have a election this year so here’s what the IOM government looks like from a distance. Dating back to Viking origins over 1,000 years ago, Tynwald is the oldest legislature in the world in continuous existence. It has two branches: the House of Keys and the Legislative Council.

Her Majesty the Queen as Lord of Mann is our Head of State. Her personal representative on the Island is His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, who is appointed by the Crown for a five-year term. The Island is a Crown Dependency which, through its ancient parliament, Tynwald, enjoys a high degree of domestic legislative and political autonomy.

Every five years the House of Keys is dissolved by the Lieutenant Governor and a General Election is held to elect members of the House of Keys. The voting system used is Proportional Representation (PR). The House of Keys is the lower branch of Tynwald, which consists of 24 members who represent single member and multi-member constituencies. The members of the House of Keys are directly elected by the people of the Isle of Man. The majority of Members sit as independents, and the virtual absence of party politics has contributed to the remarkable stability of the Manx system.

Tywald Sitting

Eight of the eleven Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs), are elected by the Members of the House of Keys; the remaining Members of Legislative Council are the ex-officio members, H.M. Attorney General, the Lord Bishop and the President of Tynwald, who is elected by Tynwald as a whole.

The Legislative Council generally acts as a revising chamber for Bills which are usually introduced in the Keys. The Royal Assent to Tynwald Bills is given by the Queen or, now more commonly, by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor.

The two branches sit separately throughout the parliamentary year principally to enact primary legislation; they sit together as Tynwald Court mainly to debate matters of policy, approve delegated legislation and to adopt financial motions. On 5th July each year, Tynwald Court assembles in the open air on Tynwald Hill at St. John’s, a Viking site of the Manx parliament, to conduct parliamentary business and receive petitions for redress from aggrieved citizens.

Kelly’s Note: Technically the Isle of Man Government has a tricameral system, not a bicameral system as is widely reported, because — as described above — it meets as its two parts and then together to make some laws, which makes three parts. Hat tip: Alex Downie, MLC