Tonga campaign finishes ahead of Thursday poll
Tongans off to the polls Thursday for the second election under reforms brought in, in 2010.
Tongans go to the polls tomorrow, Thursday, for just the second vote under a more democratic system.
The people vote for 17 of the 26 elected members in the Legislature, with the nobles choosing the other nine.
The government also has the option of adding up to four appointed members.
There is a record number of registered voters with 105 candidates hoping to become People's Representatives.
The supervisor of elections Pita Vuki spoke to Don Wiseman.
PITA VUKI: Voting starts at nine, until 4 o'clock in the afternoon tomorrow.
DON WISEMAN: And today is a non-campaigning day, is it a public holiday?
PV: No it is not a public holiday, all the candidates' campaigning, those activities ceased at 9 o'clock this morning so from now until tomorrow there's no longer campaigning activities in the country. People are preparing themselves for voting starting at 9 o'clock in the morning until 4pm in the afternoon.
DW: That's included the removal of banners and that sort of thing.
PV: That is correct, I can see there are lots of banners that have been removed from where they were in the last couple of weeks.
DW: Now I think in 2010 some international observers came in to monitor the election then, is that the case this time around?
PV: In 2010 the government invited New Zealand and Australia to provide international observers. This year I'm not aware of any organisations coming in as observers.
DW: Now there are significantly less candidates this time round, do you find that that's an unusual situation or was it just a big number last time because it was such a momentous occasion.
PV: Yeah I think so, last time was the very first election under the political reform we had in 2010 and I guess you know people were excited to take part in the elections and there were more candidates registered then in 2010 compared to what we have in these elections. At the same time the number of women registered as candidates is slightly increased compared to the last time which is I think a good sign for women to take part in the election process.
DW: How long do you think before results start coming in?
PV: I think the results start coming in to our office say 6 o'clock or onwards and we expect to announce the result, on the same night, tomorrow night.
DW: So you'll have a full final result on Thursday night.
PV: I really hope so.
DW: In terms of what happens as far as government goes, the present government continues in a caretaker capacity and that could be for a number of weeks.
PV: That is correct, it could be for a couple of weeks until they form a new government.
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