- Language: English
- 16 Pages
- Published: March 2012
- Region: India
Country Report Tonga
- ID: 2138734
- December 2014
- Region: Tonga
- 17 Pages
- The Economist Intelligence Unit
Following the general election on November 27th, Tonga's politicians are in the process of forming a new government and selecting a new prime minister, with a final decision expected by the end of December. Although the opposition Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands (DPFI) did not gain a majority in parliament, horse-trading since the election means that it is set to gain sufficient support from independent members of parliament (MPs) to form a government. Further democratic reforms are likely over the forecast period.
In the election-the second held since the introduction of limited democratic reforms in 2010-the opposition DPFI won nine of the 17 directly elected seats. However, this was down on the 12 seats that it won in 2010 and was insufficient to give it a majority in the 26-member Legislative Assembly (parliament), as nine seats in the chamber are reserved to represent Tonga's 33 nobles. However, one independent MP has affiliated with the DPFI since the election, giving it control over ten seats, with the other 16 held by the seven independent MPs and nine nobles. Attention is now focusing on the process of appointing a prime minister; this has resulted in meetings and horse-trading between the DPFI, the independent legislators and the nobles. A prime minister must gain the support of at least one-half of parliament's members. A candidate to be nominated to the king is likely to be identified by the end of December.
Despite the DPFI's rather disappointing election result, which resulted from internal disunity, the party's prospects have since brightened. The DPFI's leader and veteran democracy campaigner, Samuela 'Akilisi Pohiva, who had indicated that this could be his final parliamentary term, was re-elected by a large majority, and several independent MPs have declared their willingness to support the DPFI, while there is also the prospect that some nobles may do so too. Moreover, the election result appears to show discontent with Fiji's politics in general and with its quality of governance in particular, with 12 new MPs having been elected and ten of the incumbents (including several cabinet ministers) failing to hold on to their seats. It appears likely, therefore, that all 17 democratically elected MPs will back Mr Pohiva as the next prime minister against the nobles' chosen candidate, Lord Vaea, the internal affairs minister in the previous government (Lord Vaea replaces the outgoing prime minister, Lord Tu'ivakano, as the preferred choice of the noble faction). There is also an outside chance that that an alternative, compromise candidate could emerge from among the independent legislators, in a development that would similarly deprive the nobles of power for the first time. SHOW LESS READ MORE >
Country Report Tonga
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Independents may back the democratic opposition
Significant challenges await the new government