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Independence from PNG: A core belief for many Bougainvilleans

Transparency urges govt to ditch plans for first-past-post voting

Lawrence Stephens
Lawrence Stephens

MEDIA STATEMENT | Transparency International PNG

PORT MORESBY - Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) is gravely concerned by a recent statement by prime minister Peter O’Neill who has told parliament PNG should go back to the first-past-the-post voting system and abandon the limited preferential voting (LPV) used in the 2012 and 2017 national elections.

“The LPV system has increased the democratic mandate of elected leaders and any step back to first-past-the-post will risk diminishing the voices of the people of Papua New Guinea in our national elections,” said TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens.

“The voting system is a non-issue in comparison to other more pressing administrative challenges to ensuring the integrity of national elections that should represent the views of Papua New Guineans.”

Preferential voting systems like LPV are seen to be more democratic than first-past-the-post as they allow voters the opportunity to spread their votes amongst multiple candidates with the winner of a majority of votes after elimination and redistribution of votes being quantitatively more representative – especially in electorates with many candidates.

In PNG, LPV can give minority candidates a stronger chance to present themselves as potential representatives of communities beyond those of their immediate clans and language groups, allow voters to choose candidates outside of their immediate clans, and can reduce the impact of electoral fraud in an election.

“The PNG Electoral Commission has stated that systems like LPV are seen to be more indicative or reflective of the will of voters” said Mr. Stephens.

“Contrary to what has been announced on the floor of parliament, multiple observer groups, such as the Commonwealth and TIPNG, support the use of LPV and have been justifiably concerned about more pressing issues such as updating rolls, compliance with and enforcement of election laws, procurement and financing, personnel issues and security during the election periods.

“It is surprising that the leaders in parliament seem not  to be prioritising and strengthening these areas. Let us do things in accordance with the laws of the country before complaining that they are not fit for purpose.”

TIPNG will be submitting its concerns to the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission and it is calling on all elected leaders and concerned citizens to accept the enforcement of agreed rules rather than changing the rules to suit the wishes of individuals.

TIPNG said the LPV system was adopted to benefit all voters and has not been as well administered as it should have been but should not dumped by those who have failed to respect and support its rules and wish to return to a system which allowed MPs to be elected with as little as 10% of the votes in local and national parliamentary elections.

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