Vanuatu considers ways to counter political instability
Vanuatu tries to come to terms with ongoing political instability.
As with most of Melanesia, the lack of political stability is often a critical issue in Vanuatu.
This month the prime minister, Moana Carcasses, who enjoys a rare absolute majority in parliament, has brought his MPs together to have them nut out solutions.
Kiery Manassah is the senior communications officer at the Pacific Institute of Public Policy.
He told Don Wiseman about the impact of political instability on Vanuatu.
KIERY MANASSAH: There are few political parties, so really concerned about political instability, it has impacted on the economy of the country, it has affected services.
DON WISEMAN: Is it a concern for people outside of parliament, do people worry about the regular votes of no-confidence and this sort of thing?
KM: People are certainly concerned, you have to understand that in the Vanuatu context even though people are concerned they wouldn't speak their mind or take action and so it's a bit difficult in the lead up towards an election. People talk about these things and then after an election sometimes it goes back and you know things go back to normal again. So yes, people are concerned but how to address it really depends on the leaders of the country and I think with the current government they are trying to look at ways to address this.
DW: I know one of the things that they've been looking at has been party hopping legislation.
KM: What I would say is that such measures to curb instability would be more a band-aid solution. They really need to address how people in parliament can really represent the views and the people they claim to represent because at the moment I don't think there is a fair representation of the population of the country.
DW: Is that because once they get elected they spend all their time in Port Villa, they're not back in their constituency?
KM: Exactly, a lot of them rarely visit their constituencies and you know they only visit them during elections. Leaders truly need to think about ways of how to really get the people properly represented in parliament and only then can they address the real cause of the instability. There's got to be a connection between the MPs and the people in the outer islands and there's a lot of them. The majority of the population here lives in the rural islands and there's a very big gap between the MPs and their constituents.
DW: But there are a lot of other issues aren't there, for instance this lack of enthusiasm that MPs have for being in opposition. Everyone wants to be in government because that's where the money is.
KM: That's right, politics here is sometimes like that, for example a lot of them are hopping into the current government, they think that they can gain a bit more for themselves and for their own politics. So to get into government it means more than staying in the opposition and providing a good opposition to the government and helping the issues of governance.
DW: It also comes back I suppose to having parties that have policy frameworks and can outline precisely what it is they stand for beyond just wanting to get into power.
KM: To me it's a long-term project that needs to be worked and people have got to understand that for a government to function properly you've got to have good policies, you've got to have good long-term policies and short-term policies that can address the real needs of the people. There is a tendency here for people to come up with quick solutions to issues instead of addressing the long-term goals, long-term issues of a country.
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