Election analysis (2)

Here is my second piece of analysis on the Solomon Islands election results. I have included an updated list of incoming MPs, their party affiliation (to the best of my knowledge) and their winning vote at the end of the post.

Half-old and half-new, but clearly a new generation

Peter Kenilorea – take a bow! He predicted that roughly half the incumbents would be ousted and half returned. He’s exactly right: just as in 2006, 25 MPs have been returned and 25 have been replaced (including three who did not recontest and one seat that was vacant following the recent death of late Edward Huni’ehu).

To be honest, I’m a little surprised incumbents did so well given the record number of candidates contesting the election. I’m also surprised that incumbents have won back some of the most heavily contested seats – Clay Forau, Sam Iduri, Toswell Kaua, James Tora and Gordon Darcy Lilo have all triumphed in fields of 14 or more candidates. (Admittedly, six other seats with 14 or more candidates returned new MPs, although in two of those the incumbent did not recontest.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, however, the more interesting story is which of the incumbents have been ousted. Only six MPs have returned out of the 25 who had served more than one term, and of these, two (Folotalu and Tora) have each served less than 1.5 terms, both having won a by-election at some point. By contrast, from the 24 members of the “class of 2006”, 19 have been returned.

Even with the return of an old-hand like former four-term MP Danny Philip, this parliament will have 43 MPs who have been elected to parliament within the last four years – generational change indeed. However, as I discuss further below, the five remaining old hands who have served more than two full terms – Tausinga, Philip, Rini, Sogavare and Darcy Lilo – are all exerting their influence. All five are potential prime ministerial candidates and all five are heavily involved in the current lobbying efforts for their respective parties.

Party affiliations

It is always very difficult to pin down party affiliations so I think I can be forgiven for a few errors in my previous election analysis. Here are some updates and corrections, with a summary table further below.

Overall, it now seems that there are six ‘parties’ to watch, whereas I had mainly focused on four (SIDP, OUR party, SIPRA and RDP). Perhaps the biggest development is the announcement that the influential Association of Independent Members (AIM) has been replaced by the Independent Democratic Party (IDP) and continues to receive support from businessman Tommy Chan. AIM was part of the CNURA coalition but that relationship soured after its parliamentary leader, Synder Rini, was sacked by Sikua in April.

So far, I’m only aware of two returning IDP/AIM MPs (Rini and Varian Lonamei) but the party secretary, Leonard Kaitu’u, claims that the IDP ran a ‘silent, low profile campaign’ contesting 47 electorates and that a remarkable 19 IDP candidates had won seats in the new parliament (Solomon Star, 10/08/10). This number seems very large and perhaps is somewhat inflated so as to appeal to new, inexperienced MPs. But I’m only speculating – things will become clearer in the coming days.

The other player I underestimated is the Direct Development Party, led by former SICHE Director Dick Ha’amori. New MP for East Guadalcanal, Bradley Tovosia, can claim the dubious distinction of being the first MP to change parties – he announced today that he was leaving OUR party to join the DDP (OneTV, 10/08/10).

Tovosia is closely followed by East Honiara MP, Douglas Ete, who is part of Philips’ RDP but now says that he is also affiliated with the DDP (OneTV, 9/08/10).  Finally, reports suggest that John Moffat Fugui, the new MP for Central Honiara, is also a DDP member, giving it a total of four representatives (OneTV, 8/08/10).

SIDP’s final position has strengthened with late results.  It picked up three extra seats with victories to Walter Folotalu in Lau/Mbaelelea (although this may be subject to an election petition, see more below), Alfred Ghiro in East Makira and Martin Kialoe in Malaita Outer Islands.  Furthermore, it seems that James Tora and newcomer Connelly Sadakabutu are now also with SIDP, bringing its parliamentary membership to 14.

OUR party is a little stronger (4 MPs) thanks to the victory of Joseph Onika in East Guadalcanal.

Finally, a few minor parties have a single representative each. It seems that Seth Gukuna (Rennell Bellona) joined Fred Fono’s People’s Congress Party and so with Fono’s defeat, Gukuna may be the PCP’s sole MP. Prior to the election, news reports suggested that Clay Forau (Temotu Vatud) was the chair of the People’s Federation Party – he has also been re-elected.

Nonetheless, I’m still inclined to think that the PCP, the PFP, Samuel Manetoali’s RUPP and possibly even the Liberal Party are all likely to dissolve sometime over the next term of parliament, and probably sooner rather than later.

Party

Candidates

SIDP

14

OUR party

4

SIPRA

3-4

DDP

4

RDP-SI

2

IDP/AIM

2

RUPP

1

PCP

1-2

People’s Federation Party

1

Liberal Party

1-2

PAP

0

Nasnol

0-3

Independent/unknown

12-16

TOTAL

50

Note: SIPRA’s fourth member is Elijah Doro Muala, who may also be with the Nasnol Pati.  I’ve updated this table to reflect a recent interview with Matthew Wale (OneTV, 13/08/10) in which he stated that the PCP has 2 MPs, the Liberals have 2, SIPRA has 3 and Nasnol has 3. All party affiliations are subject to change at short notice!

The next government – rival camps

The shape of the opposing camps is becoming a little clearer thanks in particular to these helpful reports (OneTV, 10/08/10 and Solomon Times, 11/08/10).

The first camp is formed around members of the outgoing CNURA government. They start with 11 members of the SIDP, Sikua and possibly the lone member of the PCP, Seth Gukuna.  In addition, several other former CNURA members have been returned and some are likely to ally themselves with the new Sikua/SIDP grouping.   My guess is that they will have a reasonably solid core of about 15-18 votes.

The challenge for this camp is to ensure that it has a balanced regional mix.   At present, they have a very strong Malaitan representation, several Guale MPs (Sikua, Dei Pacha and newcomer Moses Garu) and newcomer Alfred Ghiro from Makira.  To establish and maintain a stable government, I suspect that the coalition will need to be balanced with representation from the west (Western and/or Choiseul) and the east (Temotu and/or Makira).

(Update 14/08/10: SIDP now has 14 members and in a recent interview (OneTV, 13/08/10), Matthew Wale has claimed that their coalition now has 30 MPs (SIDP = 14, PCP =2, Liberals = 2, SIPRA = 3, Nasnol = 3 and independents =6, including Clay Forau, Samuel Manetoali and Martin Magga.)

A second camp is based at Honiara Hotel and includes the IDP and possibly SIPRA.  IDP Secretary Kaitu’u indicated that Rini will be a candidate for PM (Solomon Star, 10/08/10) and SIPRA has signalled that Tausinga will nominate once again (Solomon Star 10/08/10).

A third camp has established itself at Pacific Casino Hotel and revolves around OUR party, the DDP and the RDP.  Sogavare has indicated that he will be a candidate for PM (OneTV, 9/08/10) and previous Sogavare-backer, independent MP Bobo Dettke is also reported to be attached to this group.

During the election campaign, RDP’s leader, Danny Philip, signalled that he would also contest the prime ministership, meaning that the Pacific Casino camp may have to choose between at least two experienced, strong personalities. Philip was previously a foreign affairs minister for part of the first Sogavare government (2000-01), during which time he was involved in controversy when he threatened switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China ‘unless Taiwan came up with US$40 million in assistance’ (Fraenkel J 2004, The Manipulation of Custom, p.124). He later resigned in June 2001.

Earlier, Philip and Tausinga were both members of the opposition during the Ulufa’alu-SIAC government (1997-2000). Indeed, Tausinga replaced Philip as opposition leader in March 1998 ‘following allegations that Philip had misused a small project fund’ (Moore C 2004, Happy Isles in Crisis, p.102). Earlier still, Philip was Deputy PM under Mamaloni until he was sacked in 1995.

Beyond this broad sketch of the three camps, much remains uncertain. Personally, I feel for whoever is elected to represent East Makira and Malaita Outer Islands. By the time their results are declared, much of the politicking will be well advanced. And when they eventually reach Honiara, they may well be met by three different welcoming parties each hoping to woo them to their camp.

Election petitions

Various news bulletins have already reported suggestions that losing candidates my lodge petitions in West Honiara (Tran), Lau/Mbaelelea (Folotalu), Small Malaita (Hou), Maringe/Kokota (Lonamei), North East Guadalcanal (Sikua) and Ngella (Mark Kemakeza).  It remains to be seen whether any or all of these threats eventuate.   Of 31 previous election petitions that are listed on the PacLII database, only three have been successful (see my earlier post on election petitions for further details).

In West Honiara, the complaint relates to registered voters who were not resident in the electorate. In Lau/Mbaelelea, unhappy supporters of one of the candidates burned a ballot box and destroyed all the ballots inside.

Whilst both cases seem like reasonable grounds for appeal, I suspect that the size of the winning margin may also influence potential petitioners. For example, in West Honiara, Namson Tran defeated the second-placed Isaac Inoke by almost 3,000 votes, a little under 40% of the total. And in Maringe/Kokota, although the winning margin is not quite so dramatic, a win of around 400 votes (or 9% of total) would seem like a modest buffer against complaints of irregularities.

I have few details on the grounds of complaint for Small Malaita, North East Guadalcanal and Ngella, so I can’t comment on what may happen there.

Strong wins

When you’re wrong, you might as well admit it. I predicted that many MPs would win with a very low proportion of the vote, for the simple reason that there was a record number of candidates.  Contrary to my prediction, it is already clear that a remarkable number of MPs have had very big wins. At least five MPs have won more than two-thirds of the vote (Tausinga, Maelanga, Sogavare, Sofu and Manetoali).  Another four have won an absolute majority (Tran, Shanel, Lusibaea and Laore) and five more have won more than 40% of the vote.  And this just out of the 37 results of which I am aware.

I’ve already commented on some of the strong winners in my earlier post.  A couple more stand out: Samuel Manetoali faced six opponents and yet won 66.9%, whilst Bobo Dettke was challenged by 13 other candidates and still won 41.6%.

It is less surprising that four seats have been won with less than 20% of the vote and all were heavily contested.  In the most heavily contested seat of them all, John Moffat Fugui, facing 22 opponents in East Honiara, won with just 14.9%.

Incumbents – provincial analysis

The table below shows how incumbents have fared in different provinces. Honiara, Western, Guadalcanal and Makira have each replaced a large share of their MPs. Malaita, Isabel and Temotu have been kinder to their sitting MPs.

Province

1993

1997

2001

2006

2010

Renell Bellona

1/1

0/1

0/1

0/1

1/1

Malaita

8/13

4/13

6/14

5/14

8/14

Guadalcanal

5/8

4/8

2/8

4/8

4/8

West

6/9

7/9

3/9

8/9

4/9

Central

2/2

2/2

1/2

1/2

1/2

Makira

¾

3/4

2/4

3/4

1/4

Choiseul

2/3

1/3

2/3

3/3

1/3

Temotu

½

1/2

3/3

1/3

2/3

Honiara

½

0/2

0/3

0/3

0/3

Isabel

2/3

1/3

0/3

0/3

3/3

TOTAL

31/47

25/47

19/50

25/50

25/50

Results and party affiliations

(as at 10 August)

CENTRAL

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Ngella Mark Kemakeza* Ind.

24.5

12

Savo and Russells Dickson Panakitasi OUR

42.7

6

CHOISEUL

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

East Choiseul Manesseh Sogavare* OUR

72.3

4

North West Choiseul Connelly Sandakabatu Ind.

30.0

6

South Choiseul Elijah Doro Muala SIPRA

18.3

13

GUADALCANAL

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Central Guadalcanal Peter Shanel* OUR

55.4

2

East Central Guadalcanal Joseph Onika OUR

11

East Guadalcanal Bradley Tovosia Ind.

10

North East Guadalcanal Derick Sikua* Liberal

6

North Guadalcanal Martin Sopaghe* Ind.

31.4

13

North West Guadalcanal Bobo Dettke Ind.

41.6

14

South Guadalcanal David Dei Pacha* SIDP

12

West Guadalcanal Moses Garu SIDP

11

HONIARA

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Central Honiara John Moffat Fugui DDP

14.9

23

East Honiara Douglas Ete DDP/RDP

38.7

12

West Honiara Namson Tran Ind.

57.7

6

ISABEL

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Gao/Bugotu Samuel Manetoali* RUPP

66.9

7

Hograno/Kia/Havulei Selwyn Riumana* Ind.

35.3

10

Maringe/Kokota Varian Lonamei* IDP

32.7

10

MAKIRA

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Central Makira Hypolite Taremae Ind.

33.9

16

East Makira Alfred Ghiro SIDP

14

Ulawa/Ugi James Tora* Ind.

26.1

14

West Makira Dick Ha’amori DDP

18.6

15

MALAITA

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Aoke/Langa Langa Matthew Wale* SIDP

37.3

6

Baegu/Asifola Toswell Kaua* Ind.

23.7

14

Central Kwara’ae Jackson Fiulaua Ind.

45.5

11

East Are Are Andrew Keniasina Ind.

8

East Kwaio Stanley Sofu* SIDP

68.9

4

East Malaita Manasseh Maelanga* SIDP

71.5

7

Fataleka Steve Abana* SIDP

36.6

9

Lau Mbaelelea Walter Folotalu SIDP

11

Malaita Outer Islands

7

North Malaita Jimmy Lusibaea Ind.

49.8

9

Small Malaita Rick Houenipwela SIDP

15

West Are Are John Maneniaru Ind.

10

West Kwaio Peter Tom* SIDP

35.0

13

West Kwara’ae Sam Iduri* SIDP

18.2

18

RENNELL BELLONA

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Rennell Bellona Seth Gukuna* PCP

47.9

8

TEMOTU

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Temotu Nende Commins Mewa Ind.

29.9

8

Temotu Pele Martin Magga Ind.

13

Temotu Vatud Clay Forau Soalaoi Ind.

19

WESTERN

Electorate Winner Party

Vote

Cand’s

Gizo/Kolombangara Gordon Darcy Lilo* SIPRA

38.7

14

Marovo Snyder Rini* IDP

37.2

12

North New Georgia Job Tausinga* SIPRA

74.2

3

North Vella La Vella Milner Tozaka* Ind.

45.1

6

Ranongga/Simbo Charles Sigoto RDP

38.8

5

Shortland Islands Steve Laore Ind.

50.3

7

Sth New Georg-Rend-Tetep Danny Philip RDP

39.4

8

South Vella La Vella Lionel Alex Ind.

26.5

6

Vona Vona/Wst New Georg Silas Tausinga SIPRA

27.7

12

Note: these results come from the SIBC web site and a report in the Island Sun.  Where the two sources overlapped and can be compared, I’ve noticed that there discrepancies in some of the figures.  Consequently, it’s possible that some of the winning votes are slightly inaccurate. I will make a note of any subsequent corrections.

Updates (11/08/10 and 14/08/10): I have updated the original post to reflect the victories of Alfred Ghiro and Martin Kialoe, both SIDP members, in East Makira and Malaita Outer Islands, respectively.  I have also updated the party numbers based on more recent reports.  Finally, I have corrected a confusion regarding the RDP and the Reform and Democratic Party – they are one and the same (for a while, I had thought that RDP stood for Rural Development Party but I was incorrect). Consequently, I have had to edit some references to the RDP and Danny Philip, particularly in the ‘rival camps’ section of this post.

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One Response to “Election analysis (2)”

  1. terence Says:

    Thanks Harry. That’s excellent analysis. Particularly for someone like me who’s stuck watching from Canberra.

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