PNG POLL PREDICTIONS - BY THE EXPERTS

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By Colin Taimbari

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 7, 2002 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Vote buying will prevail during polling. There will be election related violence in parts of the country. Ethnic and linguistic lines may influence a certain percentage of voting and women candidates will struggle again.

These are the general observations by senior political science lecturers at the University of Papua New Guinea, looking ahead to this month's Papua New Guinea general elections.

They were revealed to journalists at a news conference in Port Moresby.

Head of the political science program Dr. James Chin said the so-called strong parties will not exist alone in the new Papua New Guinea parliament. A coalition government will be formed after July 15, and he also expects election petitions to increase from the 1997 elections.

Dr. Chin said independents will also play a major role in the formation of the new government.

Most of the 43 political parties will definitely go into extinction after 12 months, he said. This is when parties are supposed to file returns to the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties and realize that they are unable to do so.

He said this is not the watershed election for Papua New Guinea that many people would like to believe. That will happen in 2007 when preferential voting is used, he said.

Dr. Henry Okole said 65 percent of voter turnout in elections is good. But he expects protest ballots because of the air of mistrust surrounding many incumbent MPs and the poor quality of governance.

Dr. Okole said there is also bound to be a lot of vote buying, as in previous elections.

Dr. Ron May, who is from the Australian National University and has studied Papua New Guinea politics for more than 30 years, said the high number of candidates in each seat has made results fairly unpredictable. But the process of forming the government will be no different from before and it will be interesting to see how the new Integrity Law comes into play, he said.

Dr. Ray Anere said the rejection rate of 51 percent means that half of the sitting MPs will not come back after this election. The vulnerability is more in the Highlands region followed by Mamose, with the Islands seats being more stable, he said.

"Many of the Highlands MPs will lose their seats and new ones will come in," he said.

Dr. Anere said the fragmentation of votes will continue. In seats where more than 30 candidates are contesting, the winner may score less than 10 percent of the total votes.

Dr. Joe Ketan said given the candidates' desire to win, the spending of huge sums of money and the use of threats creates a potent mix for the elections and it should undoubtedly be an exciting period.

Dr. Orovu Sepoe said while the Integrity Law provides incentives for women candidates, women continue to play second fiddle to men. But it was good to see them as national leaders and not just women's leaders.

Dr. Sepoe said if there was a change of focus by voters from women's personality to issues, than there would be a better chance of more women getting elected.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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