Pacific Media Watch

16 November 2017

TONGA: Democratic landslide delivers numbers for Pōhiva government

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Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva ... boosted by stronger Democratic vote than in 2014. Image: Kaniva News

By Philip Cass
AUCKLAND (Kaniva News/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Tonga’s Democrats have won 14 seats today in the snap election in the only Pacific kingdom, giving them enough seats in Parliament to form the next government without needing the support of independents.

Kaniva News editor Kalino Lātū, who is covering the elections from Tonga, reports that supervisor of Elections Pita Vuki confirmed a moment ago that the Democrats had added five more seats to their tally.

Vuki said the Democrats had won two seats in Ha’apai, two in Vava’u and one in Niua.

The Democrat Party had already won a landslide victory in Tongatapu in today’s elections.

The only seat they lost is Tongatapu 3, which was won by former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni who was re-elected as an independent.

The 17 People’s Representatives:
Tongatapu 1 – ‘Akilisi Pōhiva

Tongatapu 2 – Semisi Lafu Sika

Tongatapu 3 – Siaosi Sovaleni (Independent MP)

Tongatapu 4 – Mateni Tapueluelu

Tongatapu 5 – Losaline Ma’asi

Tongatapu 6 – Poasi Tei

Tongatapu 7 – Sione Vuna Fa’otusia

Tongatapu 8 – Semisi Fakahau

Tongatapu 9 – Penisimani Fakahau

Tongatapu 10 – Pohvia Tu’i’onetoa

‘Eua 11 – Tevita Lavumaau (Independent)

Ha’apai 12 – Mo’ale Finau

Ha’apai 13 – Veivosa Taka

Vava’u 14 – Dr Saia Piukala

Vava’u 15 – Samiu Vaipulu (Independent)

Vava’u 16 – Akosita Lavulavu

Niua 17 – Vavatau Hui

Huge support for Pōhiva
There has been huge personal support for Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva.

Pōhiva won in spite of being challenged by 10 candidates.

A total of 86 candidates stood today, including 15 women, for 17 open seats.

About 146 police officers were assigned to polling stations.

As Kaniva News reported earlier today, all but two of the Noble’s Representatives in Tonga’s Parliament have been re-elected.

Lord Vaha’i took the third Tongatapu seat coin toss after winning a coin toss with Lord Vaea.

Massey University director of Pasifika Dr Malakai Koloamatangi told Radio New Zealand the importance of the vote could not be overstated.

“The first election was okay, 2010, it was testing the waters and so forth. 2014 was to see whether the mechanisms and machinery was in place,” he said.

“But this election, I think more than the others, even before 2010, will be the real litmus.”

Media academic Dr Philip Cass is a Kaniva News adviser and research associate of the Pacific Media Centre.

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Pacific Media Watch

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