ANALYSIS: Only magic will do: Can the nobility MPs breach their self-serving minority political interest and vote for popular candidate Siaosi Sovaleni?

    ANALYSIS If we look at the history of Tonga’s premiership elections since 2010 it is hard to believe the popular candidate Siaosi Sovaleni will win the premiership election.

    Dr ‘Aisake Eke (L), Siaosi Sovaleni

    This is because the nobility MPs always side with the minority group of people’s MPs when the majority of them fail to get the numbers to win the premiership election themselves.

    Tonga’s apparently designed-to-fail system of democracy should be blamed for this. And the Nobles’ representatives and the minority group of people’s MPs have always taken advantage of this to steal the power that was meant for the faction with the most MPs elected by the people.

    Self-serving minority 

    The nobility are only interested in their affairs and what benefits them if they get the power such as their lands which is estimated to be 30 percent of all land in Tonga. This includes the controversial laws which treat them differently from the commoners as well as their rights to their cultural and traditional entitlements.

    They did not care about the people or respect what is known in democracy as people’s rule or majority rule based on the highest number of votes cast by the people on elections day. They told the public they wanted the people’s 17 MPs to unite so they can form the government. What they did not tell the people was that, if the 17 MPs cannot unite the nobility will join the minority and form the government.

    After Tonga’s first democratic election in 2010 there was an expectation the new government would be led by the majority of the people’s MPs. It did not happen because the nine nobility MPs aligned themselves with the five minority group of people’s MPs and formed the new government.

    After the following election, the late ‘Akilisi Pōhiva successfully urged the minority group of five independent MPs to join his PTOA Party’s nine MPs and form the government.

    The snap election of 2017 after the king dissolved parliament saw the first time in history the PTOA MPs were able to get the number and formed the government by themselves.

    However, in 2019, after the death of ‘Akilisi, the Noble MPs struck again and managed to urge interim PM Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa and two others from the PTOA Party and they formed the government.

    Unity

    The members of nobility are renowned for their unity and collaboration, especially when it comes to national politics.

    Some of them might appear in the media and public and say things which might lead people to think they were supporting the people and acting differently from the other nobles, but at the end of the day the nobility still sticks together.

    The withdrawal of Lord Fakafanua from the premiership candidacy was democratically promising but reports said the nobles were heavily involving in horse trading with the two blocs apparently in a bid to give them ministerial posts.

    There is a strong sense that Sovaleni will win the premiership elections because he has managed to unite 12 MPs with him, while Dr Eke only have five. Sovaleni only needs the votes of two more MPs so he can win.

    There are also reports that the king has advised the nobility to votes for the candidate with the most MPs.

    There are also reports the Nobility is already split, with two MPs have already confirmed their votes for Sovaleni.

    But we will see.

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