Tongan general election, 2010

Tongan general election, 2010
Tongan general election, 2010
2008 ←
26 November 2010
19 (of 26) seats to the Legislative Assembly

Early general elections under a new electoral law were held in Tonga on 25 November 2010.[1] They determined the composition of the 2010 Tongan Legislative Assembly.

The early elections were announced by the new King George Tupou V in July 2008 shortly before being crowned on 1 August 2008,[2][3] and were preceded by a programme of constitutional reform.[4] For the first time, a majority of the seats (17 out of 26) in the Tongan parliament were elected by universal suffrage, with the remaining nine seats being reserved for members of Tonga's nobility. This marked a major progression away from the 165-year rule of the monarchy towards a fully representative democracy.[5] The Taimi Media Network described it as "Tonga’s first democratically elected Parliament".[6]

The Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands, founded in September 2010 specifically to fight the election and led by veteran pro-democracy campaigner 'Akilisi Pohiva, secured the largest number of seats, with 12 out of the seventeen "People's Representative" seats.[7]




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Heading to political reforms

Prior to these elections, members of Tonga's Legislative Assembly (the Fale Alea) were primarily appointed by the monarch, who also selected the prime minister and the cabinet.[5][8] Only nine of the 30 seats were popularly elected, and another nine were held by members of the aristocracy.

In April 2010 the Legislative Assembly enacted a package of political reforms, increasing the number of people's representatives from nine to seventeen,[9] with ten seats for Tongatapu, three for Vavaʻu, two for Haʻapai and one each for Niuas and ʻEua.[10] All of the seats are single-seat constituencies, as opposed to the multi-member constituencies used before. These changes mean that now 17 of 26 representatives (65.4%) will be directly elected, up from 9 of 30 (30.0%).[11][12] The noble aristocracy will still select its nine representatives, while all remaining seats, which were previously appointed by the monarch, will be abolished.[12]

While the cabinet and the prime minister were previously selected by the monarch, this time, the elected parliamentarians will vote for a prime minister.[5]

The changes come in the wake of violent pro-democracy demonstrations in November 2006,[12][13] in which eight people were killed and much of the business district of Tongatapu destroyed as people protested against the slow movement toward political reform.[14] The changes have been fully supported by the king.[15][16] One of the candidates, Sione Fonua, said, "The king saw the signs that people wanted change and, to his credit, he has allowed that to happen".[8]

Impact on the monarchy

Tonga is a very traditional society, and the role of the monarchy is extremely important.[15]

In response to the question of the impact the new legislation would have on his role, the King stated that while not officially reducing his powers, the reforms meant that he was now limited in his capacity to exercise these powers:

"Officially, the sovereign's powers remain unchanged, because we are a monarchy, we have a unity of power as opposed to a separation of power. The difference in future is that I shall not be able to exercise any of my powers at will, but all the sovereign's powers must be exercised solely on the advice of the Prime Minister in most things, and in traditional matters the law lords who advise exercise of power. In that case, I suppose we are different from other nominal monarchies which retain the trappings of monarchy, but actually govern themselves as republics."
—King George Tupou V[15]

Analysts, however, have said they are not yet certain what effective changes the political shift would bring.[5] The king retains the power of veto over certain laws, as well as the power to dismiss the government.[17]


People's Representatives

Voter registration closed on 31 August, with approximately 42,000 voters registering.[8][18] In November 2010, the Women’s and Children’s Crisis Centre expressed concern that up to 40% of eligible voters could have failed to register.[19]

Candidates were registered on 21 and 22 October, with 147 candidates contesting the 17 constituencies.[20] The Tongatapu 6 and 9 constituencies were the most heavily contested, with 15 candidates each, while Ha'apai 13, 'Eua 11 and Niuas 17 had only three candidates each.[20] Ten candidates were women.[21] Only three of the incumbent Cabinet contested the elections.[22]

Candidates were required to pay a P400 (Tonga-pa'anga) registration fee (equivalent to $215 US or €165) and present the signatures of 50 eligible voters in support of their candidacy.[23] The suffering economy was seen as the most significant priority for the campaigners.[13] According to the World Bank, up to 40% of Tongans live on or below the poverty line.[13] In addition, the International Monetary Fund claims that Tonga's national debt is substantial and that the island nation is at high risk of not being able to pay them.[17]

In an address to the nation before polling stations opened, the King described the vote as "the greatest and most historic day for our kingdom".[24] He went on to say, "You will choose your representative to the parliament and, thus, the first elected government in our country's long history."[13]

Nobles' representatives

Elections to the nobles' seats was reformed, through the Representatives Electoral Regulations Act 2010. Each member of the nobility was henceforth only allowed to cast a vote in the constituency containing lands to which his title of nobility was attached. The four constituencies were:

  • a joint constituency for Tongatapu & ʻEua, corresponding to fourteen hereditary titles (thirteen in Tongatapu and one, Lasike, in ʻEua), and electing four representatives;
  • the constituency of Vavaʻu, corresponding to eight hereditary titles and electing two representatives ;
  • the constituency of Haʻapai, corresponding to seven hereditary titles and electing two representatives ;
  • the constituency of the Niuas, corresponding to four hereditary titles and electing one representative.

There were two nobles who held two titles each: Prince ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho held the titles of Tupoutoʻa (in Haʻapai) and Lavaka (in Tongatapu), while Lord Kalaniuvalu of Tongatapu was jointly Lord Fotofili of the Niuas. It is not clear whether this enabled these two men to cast two ballots. In addition, there were three unattributed titles: Maʻatu in the Niuas, and ʻAhomeʻe and Fohe in Tongatapu. Also, King Tupou V had, since 2008, instituted the unprecedented title of "Law Lords" for three men (Ramsay Robertson Dalgety, Tevita Poasi Tupou and Taniela Tufui), conferring upon them a non-hereditary life title which entitled them to vote in a nobles' constituency of their choosing, but not to be elected. Dalgety and Tupou chose to vote in Tongatapu, and Tufui in Haʻapai. Consequently, there were twelve to fourteen potential voters in Tongatapu (depending on where Prince Tukuʻaho and Lord Kalaniuvalu chose to vote), eight in Vavaʻu, seven or eight in Haʻapai, and two or three in the Niuas.[25] [26]


e • d Summary of the 25 November 2010 Tongan Legislative Assembly election results[dubious ]
Parties Votes % Seats
Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands 10,953 28.49 12
Independents 25,873 67.30 5
People's Democratic Party 934 2.43 0
Sustainable Nation-Building Party 519 1.35 0
Tongan Democratic Labor Party 168 0.44 0
Noble representatives 54 9
Total 38,447 100.00 26
Source: Matangi Tonga

According to election officials, approximately 89% of the 42,000 registered voters cast ballots.[5] A delegation of fourteen observers from Australia and New Zealand were in Tonga to observe the election.[13] Reports said they were pleased at the way the election had been managed.[17]

The outcome of the election resulted in a plurality of seats for the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands, who won 12 out of the 17 "People's Representative" seats,[27][28][29] with only some 29% of the votes (because of the First Past the Post voting system being used).

Once the results were finalised, the newly elected representatives selected a prime minister. Tongans, who have traditionally looked to the nobility for leadership, had widely expected it to be a nobleman.[8] After their election, however, the nobles' representatives announced that they would support a commoner for prime minister but ultimately deicided to support Lord Tu'ivakano. [30]

People's representatives


Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 1
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Samuela 'Akilisi Pohiva 1657 62.5
(unknown) Taniela Talifolau Palu 567 21.4
(unknown) Poutele Kaho Tu’ihalamaka 270 10.2
(unknown) ‘Inoke Fotu Hu’akau 105 4.0
(unknown) ‘Eliesa Fifita 38 1.4
(unknown) Siosifa Moala Taumoepeau 13 0.5
Turnout 2650
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 2
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Semisi Kioa Lafu Sika 849 37.9
(unknown) Viliami Tangi 641 28.6
(unknown) Malia Viviena ‘Alisi Numia Taumoepeau 306 13.7
PLT Sione Tu’itavake Fonua 181 8.1
(unknown) Siale ‘Ataongo Puloka 111 5.0
DLP Mele Teusivi ‘Amanaki 65 2.9
(unknown) Tevita Kaitu’u Fotu 49 2.2
(unknown) Sitafooti ‘Aho 26 1.2
(unknown) Semisi ‘Ulu’ave Mila 12 0.5
Turnout 2240
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 3
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Sitiveni Halapua 1047 38.5
PDP Clive Edwards 681 25.0
(unknown) Viliami Takau 289 10.6
(unknown) Penisimani Vea 257 9.4
(unknown) David Kaveinga Vaka 191 7.0
DLP Betty Blake 103 3.8
(unknown) Sione ‘Uhilamoelangi Liava’a 83 3.1
(unknown) Falakiko Karl Taufaeteau 35 1.3
(unknown) Pesalili Kailahi 23 0.8
(unknown) Semisi Nauto Tuapasi ‘Ata’ata 12 0.4
Turnout 2721
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 4
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI 'Isileli Pulu 1274 58.3
(unknown) ‘Etika Koka 302 13.8
(unknown) ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi 223 10.2
(unknown) ‘Etuate ‘Eniti Sakalia 215 9.8
(unknown) Tupou M. Loto’aniu 74 3.4
(unknown) Mele Tonga Savea Linda Ma’u 71 3.2
(unknown) Christopher Mafi 24 1.1
Turnout 2185
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 5
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent ‘Aisake Valu Eke 679 24.1
(unknown) Maliu Moeao Takai 616 21.9
(unknown) Siale Napa’a Fihaki 302 10.7
(unknown) Hekisou Fifita 285 10.1
(unknown) Sione V. Loseli 238 8.5
(unknown) Semisi Tongia 233 8.3
(unknown) Lopeti Senituli 155 5.5
(unknown) Sione Tu’alau Mangisi 116 4.1
(unknown) Sione Langi Vailanu 98 3.5
(unknown) Sitiveni Takaetali Finau 46 1.6
(unknown) ‘Ofa Tautuiaki 24 0.9
(unknown) Pita Ikata’ane Finaulahi 19 0.7
(unknown) Sateki Finau 4 0.1
Turnout 2815
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 6
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Siosifa Tu’itupou Tu’utafaiva 735 26.5
(unknown) Siosaia Moehau 731 26.4
(unknown) Posesi Fanua Bloomfield 389 14.0
(unknown) Sione Fifita Maumau 279 10.1
(unknown) Viliami Moimoi Vaea 169 6.1
(unknown) Siosiua Holitei Fonua 163 5.9
(unknown) Lesieli Hu’availiku Niu 61 2.2
(unknown) Melino He Mapu’atonga Tangi 50 1.8
(unknown) Sione Tu’alau Vimahi 47 1.7
(unknown) Hemaloto Tatafu 40 1.4
(unknown) Sitiveni Finau 30 1.1
(unknown) Sepeti Vakameilalo 24 0.9
(unknown) Fale’aisi Vaea Tangitau 18 0.7
(unknown) Latu Timote Tu’i’asoa 17 0.6
PLT ‘Ofakitokelau Fakalata 16 0.6
Turnout 2769
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 7
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Sione Sangster Saulala 847 32.6
(unknown) Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Paunga 621 23.9
(unknown) Sione Vuna Fa’otusia 429 16.5
(unknown) Mavaetangi Manavahetau 240 9.2
(unknown) Siosifa Filini Sikuea 160 6.2
(unknown) Peato Tauholoaki Takai 117 4.5
(unknown) ‘Anau Ki Lifuka ‘Anau 89 3.4
(unknown) ‘Amanaki Paea Molitika 59 2.3
(unknown) Finau Lea’aetalafo’ou 23 0.9
(unknown) Hoatatau Tenisi 15 0.6
Turnout 2600
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 8
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI P. Sione Havea Taione 901 34.1
(unknown) Lui ‘Aho 770 29.1
(unknown) Fataimoemanu Lafaele Vaihu 474 17.9
(unknown) Siaosi ‘Etika Moleni 177 6.7
PLT Sioape Tu’iono 118 4.5
(unknown) Mosese Senituli Manu 83 3.1
(unknown) Simote Po’uliva’ati 66 2.5
(unknown) Simione Kau Silapelu 32 1.2
(unknown) Nakita Talanoa 20 0.8
(unknown) Solo Fefioloi Solomone La’akulu 5 0.2
Turnout 2646
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 9
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Kaveinga Fa’anunu 908 34.0
(unknown) Sevenitini Toumo’ua 414 15.5
(unknown) Viliami Fukofuka 262 9.8
(unknown) Filimone Fifita 241 9.0
(unknown) ‘Aisake ‘Etimoni Tu’iono 229 8.6
(unknown) Siaosi ‘Enosi Tu’ipulotu 147 5.5
(unknown) Semisi Kailahi 136 5.1
(unknown) Tonga Tongilava Lemoto 110 4.1
(unknown) ‘Epeli Taufa Kalemani 51 1.9
(unknown) Konisitutone Simana Kami 50 1.9
(unknown) Falati Papani 49 1.8
(unknown) Mosese Latu 22 0.8
(unknown) Sione ‘Umeahola Faeamani 21 0.8
(unknown) ‘Ofa Fatai 18 0.7
(unknown) Samisoni Lotaki Kanongata’a 15 0.6
Turnout 2673
Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu 10
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Semisi Palu ‘Ifoni Tapueluelu 792 26.6
(unknown) Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa 613 20.6
(unknown) Faka’osilea Kaufusi 608 20.5
(unknown) Faka’osi ‘Akapulu Maama 277 9.3
(unknown) Semisi Kaifoto Pale 170 5.7
(unknown) Daniel Kimball Fale 109 3.7
(unknown) ZCO Ongosia ‘Uhatafe 104 3.5
(unknown) Soane Vaka’uta Melekiola 77 2.6
(unknown) Fifita Sili 71 2.4
(unknown) Latanoa Pikula 64 2.2
(unknown) Kitione Pomaama 61 2.1
(unknown) Malia Peata Sioko Noa 27 0.9
Turnout 2973


Tongan general election, 2010: ʻEua 11
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Sunia Fili 772 37.2
(unknown) Sione Sengililala Moala 667 32.1
(unknown) Tevita Lavemaau 637 30.7
Turnout 2076


Tongan general election, 2010: Haʻapai 12
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Mo’ale Finau 470 31.9
(unknown) Vili Manuopangai Faka’osiula Hingano 306 20.8
(unknown) Paula Vi 280 19.0
(unknown) Latiume Kaufusi 174 11.8
(unknown) Tevita ‘Ova 71 4.8
(unknown) Mosese Moimoi Fakahua 70 4.8
(unknown) Sione Tu’itupou Fotu 39 2.6
(unknown) Sione Fekau Mafile’o 38 2.6
(unknown) Langilangi Vimahi 16 1.1
(unknown) Penisimani Tavalu Fatafehi 8 0.5
Turnout 1472
Tongan general election, 2010: Haʻapai 13
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI 'Uliti Uata 1090 70.5
PDP Sione Teisina Fuko 253 16.4
PLT Lopeti Kamipeli Tofa 204 13.2
Turnout 1547


Tongan general election, 2010: Vavaʻu 14
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Lisiate 'Akolo 665 28.0
(unknown) 'Etuate Lavulavu 540 22.7
(unknown) Paula Piveni Piukala 502 21.1
(unknown) Tu’amelie He Lotu Faaitu’a Kemoe’atu 380 16.0
(unknown) Peauafi Pifeleti 209 8.8
(unknown) Siale Fifita 51 2.1
(unknown) Pita Vi Hala’api’api 32 1.3
Turnout 2379
Tongan general election, 2010: Vavaʻu 15
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Samiu Vaipulu 618 33.1
(unknown) Ualingi Salesi Paea 362 19.4
(unknown) Keuli Pasina Lavaki 305 16.3
(unknown) Viliami Kaufusi Helu 235 12.6
(unknown) Semisi Lavaka 208 11.1
(unknown) Viliami Pasikala 138 7.4
Turnout 1866
Tongan general election, 2010: Vavaʻu 16
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Viliami Uasike Latu 881 43.7
(unknown) Tevita Hala Palefau 347 17.2
(unknown) Tevita Kaafi Tukofuka 298 14.8
(unknown) ‘Aisea Silivenusi 289 14.3
(unknown) ‘Atalasa Misilemoti Pouvalu 203 10.1
Turnout 2018


Tongan general election, 2010: Ongo Niua 17
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
DPFI Sosefo Fe’aomoeata Vakata 383 46.8
(unknown) Sione Feingatau Iloa 228 27.8
(unknown) Petelo Taukei Fuaevalu ‘Ahomana 208 25.4
Turnout 819

Noble representatives

The nobles' representatives are:[31]

Tongan general election, 2010: Tongatapu (3 members)
Candidate Votes % ±%
Lord Tu'ivakano 13
Lord Ma'afu 10
Lord Vaea 8
Tongan general election, 2010: Vavaʻu (2 members)
Candidate Votes % ±%
Lord Tu'ilakepa 4
Lord Tu'i'afitu 4
Tongan general election, 2010: ʻEua (1 member)
Candidate Votes % ±%
Lord Lasike 6
Tongan general election, 2010: Niuas (1 member)
Candidate Votes % ±%
Lord Fusitu'a 1
Tongan general election, 2010: Haʻapai (2 members)
Candidate Votes % ±%
Lord Tu'iha'teiho 4
Lord Fakafanua 4

Government formation

Following the election, the DPFI secured the support of one independent and was seeking the support of two others – ‘Aisake Valu Eke and Sunia Fili – by offering them cabinet posts.[32] Following concerns the noble representatives would support one of the independents for Prime Minister,[33] the DPFI decided to hold a public rally to build public support.[34]

The formal process of electing a Prime Minister will begin after the final election results are formally notified, with the appointment of an interim Speaker and a call for nominations.[35] MPs will then vote by secret ballot in one or more rounds, until a candidate is elected.[35]

On 3 December 2010 the King appointed Lord Tupou as interim Speaker.[36]

The three MPs from Vava'u are considered to be pro-monarchy.[37]

Sosefo Fe’aomoeata Vakata reportedly left the DPFI and became an independent, and was likely to support the nobles together with the five independent MPs, resulting in a noble-led government.[38] He joined a bloc of 15 members, including all nine noble representatives and five other people's representatives, to jointly nominate a Prime Minister.[39]

The DPFI rejected these claims and stated it still expects to form the government.[40] A vote was scheduled for 17 December, but then delayed to 20 December.[37]

On 15 December 2010, DPFI MP 'Isileli Pulu claimed that the DPFI had the support of 14 of the 17 popularly elected MPs and of a few nobles, 18 MPs in total.[41]

On 20 December 2010 Samuela 'Akilisi Pohiva and Siale'ataonga Tu'ivakano were nominated for Prime Minister.[42] The election was postponed to 21 December 2010.[43] Tu'ivakano was elected by 14 votes to 12.[44]

On 31 December Tu'ivakano named his Cabinet, which included 6 people's representatives, 3 nobles, and 2 commoners appointed from outside Parliament.[45]


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