The Revolving Doors of PNG’s Parliament
Papua New Guineans are a very political people.
The fundamental laws which define modern politics the world over, and in particular, the ability to influence and persuade others to support one’s cause for control and power over a specific sphere, whether as an independent or on behalf of a group, is an art which is ingrained in the PNG psyche.
It permeates our society – from culture, religion, art, sport, and of course – onto the biggest stage of all, the National Parliament.
And it seems that our obsession with politics is only growing with no plausible end in sight.
The Post-Courier and The National both yesterday published articles stating that more than 4000 candidates had signed up to contest the 2012 National Elections.
The figures reveal that 4,329 candidates had signed up to contest the elections before the original nomination closing date of March 26, but with the nomination period now due to close on Friday 24th of May, that number is likely to rise – and rise sharply.
On commenting on the preliminary figures, the PNG Electoral Commission stated that:
“The final figures of the candidates will be made known when the nomination period closes, only then we can know the final figure; [and] as we said, we are still receiving names and working on the bio-data”.
These are simply extraordinary statistics – particularly when put in the context that these processed 4329 candidates, thus far, will all be hoping to win one of only 109 available seats of parliament.
(@Tavurvur) May 01, 2012
When compared to the previous elections’ numbers, the figures are astounding.
In 2002, the 109 seats were contested by about 2800 candidates, resulting in candidates winning seats with tiny propotions (including less than 10%) of the overall vote under the then used First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system.
In the 2007 elections, the first general election in which PNG used the current Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) system, it was estimated in the lead up to that election that about 3400 candidates had registered interest with the PNG Electoral Commission, but that the number was expected to rise as parties finalized their teams.
Of these numbers, the 2002 figures are the most accurate, while both the 2007 and 2012 figures quoted here were only preliminary figures as stated by PNG Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen in the lead up to the two respective general elections.
Based on the rough estimate of these figures, that represents an average increase of about 750 candidates per election since 2002!
That figure is likely to be actually higher due to the preliminary numbers cited here for both the 2007 and 2012 general elections, but despite this, the figures are mind-boggling.
Historically speaking, there is a very high turnover of MPs in PNG’s Parliament, often with less than half sitting members able to retain their seats.
With the continuous incredible increase in candidate participation rates every five years, it seems safe to assume that there will also be another high turnover rate in the upcoming 2012 general elections.