PHOTOS: People voting in Pangai, Ha'apai.
Tonga recently held groundbreaking elections towards a more democratic government as the last reining monarchy government in the South Pacific surrenders most of his parliamentary power. King Tupou V opened up more seats in the Tongan parliament for commoners to elect representatives. This will enable a total of seventeen parliamentary seats voted by the people. The Tongan nobles will still retain there nine seats in parliament. Regardless, for the first time the people's representative will outnumber the nobles and former King's seats in parliament.
According to the Tonga Chronicle on December 1, 2010, the recent elections had a 90% turnout rate with registered Tongan voters. "Out of the 42,409 people who registered, 38,474 were able to cast their vote--a solid count of 90.7%. Only 61 votes were voided, due to blank ballots or multiples selection."--Tonga Chronicle.
PHOTO: Busy day at the polls.
Across Tonga, 145 polling stations were set up for the elections.
The Friendly Island Democratic Party led the election victory, winning 12 out of the 17 popularly elected parliamentary seats. The party is led by 'Akilisi Pohiva, who is also one of the candidates likely to claim the most important role in the new government--prime minister. Pohiva claims to do "a big clean up" of the Tongan government with "finding out where we are financially--all the money, property, assets before we move on."--Tonga Chronicle. In addition, he is cracking down on corruption and "leakage" within various Tongan Ministries and is pushing forward with the Anti Corruption Commission to ensure transparency in the new government.
None of the eleven women parliamentary candidates were voted into office. However, when the new prime minister is elected, the person may choose up to four cabinet members from the outside. Some of whom may be women. Regardless, the international observers present from Australia and New Zealand claimed the elections were fair. Currently, the transition for the new government is taking place and the nominations for prime minister is being decided. I believe they have two weeks after the general elections to decide who will become prime minister.
PHOTO: Who to vote for?
The country has been tackling to resolve numerous issues from government corruption to a stagnant economy, while struggling to find a balance between traditions and modernization. In the end, let us all hope the new government may bring about positive changes in the entire Kingdom of Tonga. This "new democracy" is still very fragile and could fall apart very easily if not properly administered (look at neighboring Fiji).
Tongatapu 1- Samuela 'Akilisi Pohiva
Tongatapu 2- Semisi Kioa Lafu Sika
Tongatapu 3- William Clive Edwards
Tongatapu 4- Etika Koka
Tongatapu 5- Aisake Valu Eke
Tongatapu 6- Siosifa Tu'itupou Tu'utafaiva
Tongatapu 7- Sione Sangster Saulala
Tongatapu 8- P. Sione Havea Taione
Tongatapu 9- Kaveinga Fa'anunu
Tongatapu 10- Semisi Palu 'Ifoni Tapueluelu
'Eua 11- Sunia Manu Fili
Ha'apai 12- Mo'ale Finau
Ha'apai 13- Uliti Uata
Vava'u 14-Lisiate 'Aloveita 'Akolo
Vava'u 15- Samiu Kuita Vaipulu
Vava'u 16- Viliami Uasike Latu
Niua 17- Sosefo Fe'aomoeata Vakata
*Source Tonga Chronicle, December 1, 2010