While the focus in the Australian community is naturally on the federal election now certain to be held between March and May 2022, it is really important that the national government and all those interested in the future of our closest neighbour do not ignore the Papua New Guinea national elections, which will be held around the same time.
In the coming months I will write a series of articles on the elections which, although democratic, bear little similarity to Australia's federal and state elections.
As background, I invite readers to look at the devpolicyblog that has been running a series on the PNG elections, particularly posts by Terence Wood, with input from a couple of PNG academics.
He has comprehensively outlined the history of recent PNG national elections, held every five years. The troubles he highlights are too many to comment on here, but they include serious flaws in the registration of voters on the electoral rolls, lawlessness during campaigns and voting – which extends over several weeks – and allegations of corrupt practices by polling officials.
I will cover the electoral process in a future piece, and offer some suggestions on how Australia might carefully, but constructively, help ensure "free and fair elections" in our closest neighbour.
Reviewing events in the robust and changing world of PNG politics over the last year or two I have come to the conclusion that the 2022 PNG national elections will be the most "consequential" since Independence.
I have observed every PNG elections since 1982, some at very close hand. The one real distinction between our elections and PNG's is that, while ours are based on political parties and policies, Papua New Guinea's are very much "local", determined on a seat-by seat basis across the nation.
It has been difficult to predict who will win, and lose, due to factors that centre on seat by seat results and of course how much candidates (and to a lesser extent political parties) spend.
Even after all votes have been counted and the more than 100 seats declared (and that takes weeks) the next government is not known until Parliament meets. Even then, recent changes to the Constitution have complicated the process. Often who will be elected Prime Minister is not known until the actual meeting of the National Parliament for the first time…usually about four weeks after the last seats have been declared.
I will cover the vagaries of that period closer to the election.
When I last checked there were about 25 political parties "registered" with the PNG Electoral Commission and the Registrar of Political Parties. There are at least another 20 either seeking registration, or campaigning already without being registered.
Added to the huge number of candidates representing political parties are the extraordinary number of candidates who nominate in open and regional electorates. There are 111 electorates overall (22 are regional seats). In 2017 there were 3,332 candidate – that is, an average of over 30 candidates per electorate.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
2 posts so far.