4 Dec 2009

Pondering reforms, Tonga told King wants small electorates

4:27 pm on 4 December 2009

MPs in Tonga have been told King George Tupou 5th wants the country's political reforms to allow for small electorates.

The Legislative Assembly is debating recommended democratic reforms compiled by the Constitutional and Electoral Commission.

The Commission has suggested that the present system of multi seat constituencies, based on the country's islands, be retained.

It says changing to single member constituencies could lead to conflict.

But the Government wants them and our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says MPs were told this week by the Deputy Prime Minister, Viliami Tangi, that this is also the King's wish.

"They have argued in the past that the more Representatives you have from little districts the more democratic the system would be. And the People's Representatives are arguing that the more localised the constituency is the more the voters will be subjected to relational affiliation and religious affiliation and it would be easy to buy voters that way and therefore the democratic system would otherwise by hampered."

Mateni Tapueluelu in Tonga.