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TONGA
Fale Alea (Legislative Assembly)

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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Fale Alea / Legislative Assembly
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Structure of parliament Unicameral
Affiliation to the IPU Yes
Affiliation date(s) 2014 -
LEADERSHIP
President Lord Fakafanua (M) 
Notes Elected on 19 July 2012.
Secretary General Gloria L Guttenbeil-Pole'o  (F) 
Notes Appointed on 28 Jan. 2013.
COMPOSITION
Members (statutory / current number) 28 / 28
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN


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Women (current number) 1 (3.57%)
Mode of designation directly elected 17
indirectly elected 9
other 2
Notes Indirectly elected members: nine nobles
Other: 2 ex officio members*
Two Cabinet members who are not elected to the Legislative Assembly. In addition, seven parliamentarians are members of the Cabinet.
Term 4 years
Last renewal dates 25 November 2010
(View details)
CONTACT INFORMATION
Address Legislative Assembly
P.O. Box 901
NUKU'ALOFA, Tongatapu Island
(Export mailing lists)
Phone (676) 23 565
24 455
Fax (676) 24 626
E-mail gloria_guttenbeil@yahoo.co.uk
Website
http://www.parliament.gov.to/

ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Parliament name (generic / translated) Fale Alea / Legislative Assembly
Structure of parliament Unicameral
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Electoral law 6 May 2010
Mode of designation directly elected 17
indirectly elected 9
other 2
Constituencies 27 single-member constituencies: 10 in Tongatapu, three in Vava'u and two in Ha'apai and one each in 'Eua and Niuatoputapu/Niuafo'ou.
Voting system Majority: Single member plurality systems ("first past the post").
Candidates with the highest number of votes are declared elected.
Vacancies arising in seats held by representatives of nobles or the commoners are filled through by elections.
Voting is not compulsory.
Voter requirements - age: 21 years
- Tonga citizenship
- Registration on the electoral roll
- disqualifications: insanity, nobles, persons under summons for debt
CANDIDATES
Eligibility Qualified electors
- age: 21 years
- Tonga citizenship
- ineligibility: civil servants, persons with unpaid debts under court order
Incompatibilities - all offices of emolument under the Crown except those of Minister and Governor
Candidacy requirements Candidatures submitted by individuals
For directly elected members:
- supported by 50 qualified electors of the district concerned
- registration fee of $T 400 (US$ 200)

LAST ELECTIONS

Parliament name (generic / translated) Fale Alea / Legislative Assembly
Structure of parliament Unicameral
BACKGROUND
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 25 November 2010
Timing and scope of renewal Elections were held for all directly elected seats in the Legislative Assembly following the early dissolution of this body on 30 September. The elections had previously taken place in April 2008.
The 2010 elections saw the majority of parliamentarians directly elected for the first time. The new 26-member Legislative Assembly comprised 17 directly elected members (commoners) and nine indirectly elected members (nobles). The outgoing 32-member Legislative Assembly comprised nine commoners, nine nobles and 14 ex officio members (12 cabinet members and the royal governors of Vava'u and Ha'apai, all appointed by the King).

Tonga is a constitutional monarchy and the King retains considerable power. However, he has pursued a strong reform agenda in recent years. Following the November 2006 pro-democracy rally that turned violent (see note 1), King George Tupou V (who had acceded to the throne in September 2006) initiated a series of political reforms. In June 2007, the King established a tripartite committee comprising nobles, ministers and commoners. The committee was tasked with finding a consensus on political reform and with making recommendations to the Legislative Assembly, but it failed to reach a consensus on the new composition of the Legislative Assembly prior to the April 2008 elections.

The 2008 elections were thus held under the previous system, whereby only nine members were directly elected. Candidates representing pro-democracy parties took six of the nine seats at stake: four seats went to the Friendly Island Human Rights and Democracy Movement (FIHRDM) and two to the People's Democratic Party (PDP). The three remaining seats were won by independent candidates who are also reportedly close to the pro-democracy parties.

In July 2008, the Constitutional and Electoral Commission (CEC) was established to work on electoral reform. It published its final report in November 2009, recommending, inter alia, the establishment of a 26-member Legislative Assembly comprising 17 directly elected members and nine nobles.

On 15 April 2010, the Legislative Assembly enacted a law providing for 17 members to be directly elected. Although the CEC recommended that the Single Transferable Vote system (STV, see note 2) be used, the Legislative Assembly voted to maintain the first-past-the-post system and, subsequently, adopted new boundaries accordingly.

Several parties were formed prior to the 2010 elections. They included the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands (DPFI), led by a pro-democracy MP, Mr. 'Akilisi Pohiva (formerly of the FIHRDM), who had won the highest number of votes in the 2008 elections. It promised to improve the economic well-being of Tongans.

On 30 September 2010, King George Tupou V dissolved the Legislative Assembly in view of the 2010 elections to be held on 25 November.

The King said that the 2010 elections would bring the country a more representative political system, which, in his view, was a "natural development" for Tongan politics. Outgoing Prime Minister Fred Sevele, who was retiring from politics, urged voters to elect representatives who would be able to run government "fairly, with accountability and squarely for the benefit of everybody".

In all, 147 candidates, including 10 women, contested the 2010 elections.

Shortly before the official start of the election campaign, the results of the country's first public opinion poll were published. It was commissioned by the Media Council of Tonga and conducted by a New Zealand firm. It showed that the economy, crime and women's issues were the three top concerns of Tongans and many candidates focused on them.

The 2010 elections saw lively campaigning, with candidates putting their posters up on every available space, while trucks with loudspeakers drove along streets. Many candidates, in particular women, also resorted to door-to-door canvassing. Ms. Alisi Taumoepeau, a former cabinet minister and attorney general, pledged to bring good leadership, equal opportunities, land rights for women and a change for the better.

In all, 90.85 per cent of the 42,000 registered voters turned out at the polls.

Pro-democracy parties - the DPFI, the FIHRDM and Democratic party - took a total of 12 seats, while the four remaining seats went to pro-government candidates.

In the indirect elections for noble representatives held the previous day, nine nobles, including outgoing Speaker Tu'ilakepa, were elected.

On 3 December, King Tupou V appointed Lord Tupou as Acting Speaker. However, on 6 December, he was placed under house arrest as part of a police drugs investigation.

The newly-elected Legislative Assembly held its first session on 20 December. The following day, it designated Lord Lasike as its new Speaker unopposed.

On 22 December, the Legislative Assembly elected Lord Tu'ivakano as Prime Minister by 14 votes including nobles and independents. His sole rival, Mr. Pohiva, took 12 votes.

King Tupou V subsequently appointed Lord Lasike and Lord Tu'ivakano as Speaker and Prime Minister respectively. On 31 December, the new Prime Minister announced his cabinet members, including Mr. Pohiva. It was the first Cabinet in Tonga which was not chosen by the King.

Note 1:
In November 2006, a pro-democracy rally urging the government to speed up the pace of reform turned into a riot in which eight people were killed and much of the business district of the capital, Nuku'alofa, was set on fire. The ensuing state of emergency was maintained until the 2010 elections.

Note 2:
Under the Single Transferrable Vote (STV), each voter may mark as many candidates as he/she wishes in order of preference. After the total number of first-preference votes is tallied, the quota of votes required for the election of a candidate is established. Any candidate who has a number of first-preference votes greater than or equal to the quota is elected. If no candidate surpasses the quota in the first count, the candidate with the lowest total of votes is eliminated. In the second count, his/her votes are redistributed to the remaining candidates. This process is repeated until one candidate is elected in each constituency.
STATISTICS
Voter turnout
Round no 125 November 2010
Number of registered electors
Voters
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
42'395
38'516 (90.85%)
66
38'450
Notes
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political group Candidates Votes % of votes
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total of seats
Distribution of seats according to sex
Men

Women

Percent of women
27

1

3.57%
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Comments
Sources:
Prime Minister's Office (01.12.2010)
Legislative Assembly (12.08.2012)

Note on the number of women:
No women were elected in 2010. One woman was appointed to the Cabinet. As cabinet ministers also sit in parliament there is one woman out of a total of 28 members. Legislative Assembly (03.03.2011)

This page was last updated on 22 March 2014
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