Tonga is the only constitutional monarchy in the Pacific. Between 2006 and 2010, Tonga underwent a major constitutional reform and democratisation process. Following the reforms, the Legislative Assembly now comprises of 17 members elected by the entire country (called People’s Representatives), 9 members elected by the Nobles of Tonga and up to 4 members appointed by the King. The Prime Minster is then chosen from amongst the members of the House. Election of members will now be conducted under the simple majority voting system of ‘First-Past-the-Post’ (FPTP) where the candidate with the most votes is elected. The first elections under the new electoral system were held in 2010, and to be held every four years thereafter. In the 2010 elections, no women were elected. The King chose to appoint two members to the Legislative Assembly – one of whom was a woman, the Honourable Dr. ‘Ana Maui Taufe’ulungaki.
Tonga held its second general elections under the new electoral system on November 27th 2014. 106 candidates stood in the 2014 elections of which 16 were women (15.09%). Six of the women who participated in the 2014 Practice Parliament training for women in Tonga had stood in the elections, namely Ana Bing Fonua, Lemasingo Tania Nai, Sipola Halafihi, Gabriella ‘Ilolahia, ‘Ilisapesi Baker, and Seketi Fuko.
On 25th August 2017, King Tupou VI of Tonga officially dissolved Tonga’s Legislative Assembly on the advice of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Honorable Lord Tuivakano. The officially gazetted dissolution of the national Parliament effectively put the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva and his cabinet into caretaker mode, and called for a new election to be held no later than November 16, 2017. The electoral commission put out a call for nominations to interested and eligible candidates for at least three weeks with the close of nominations for 27th September 2017.
As of the 29th September 2017, media outlet Kaniva Tonga reported that 86 candidates had officially registered to stand in the November general elections, out of which 15 (17.4%) are women candidates. Here are names of the 15 women candidates by constituency:
- Dr. Netatua Pelesikoti Taufatofua (Ttp 1);
- ‘Ana Kanume Bing Fonua (Ttp 1);
- Ema Rererangi Fonua Stephenson (Ttp 2);
- Katalina Tohi (Ttp 3);
- Mele Teusivi ‘Amanaki (Ttp 3);
- Litia Simpson (Ttp 4);
- Seketi Fo’ou Fuko (Ttp 4);
- ‘Ana Hau’alofa’ia Koloto (Ttp 5);
- Losaline Ma’asi (Ttp 5)
- Mavaetangi Manavahe Tau (Ttp 7);
- Vika Vaka Fusimalohi (Ttp 9);
- Loupua Kuli (Ttp 10);
- Silivia Loumaile Ma’ake (‘Eua 11);
- Tongovua Fifita (Vv 15);
- ‘Akosita Lavulavu (Vv 16).
Following the elections on 16th November 2017, early results announced the successful election of two women out of the 17 people’s Representatives into Parliament, namely Hon. ‘Akosita Lavulavu, and Hon. Losaline Ma’asi. The breakdown of candidates by votes is available here.