Electoral democracy in Post-Conflict Melanesia: The 2010 Bougainville and Solomon Islands Elections

Author/s (editor/s):

Norm Kelly

Publication year:

2010

Publication type:

Policy paper

The elections held in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville from the 7 to 21 May 2010 and in the Solomon Islands on 4th August 2010 provide excellent case studies of the progress of electoral democracy in two post-conflict societies. Both jurisdictions are typical of Melanesian electoral democracy, with high turnover of MPs, low women's representation, and weak political party systems. Australia provides significant amounts of funding as aid in these two jurisdictions, which have both suffered from severe internal conflicts in recent times. The 2010 elections are an opportunity to assess whether progress is actually being made in developing the democratic institutions of society.

This paper looks at the background to the elections and describes the electoral systems and administrative structures that were used in 2010. An assessment is made of the campaigns and conduct of the election, followed by an analysis of the results. Particular attention is centred on the political party systems in each jurisdiction and prospects for increasing the representation of women. The paper concludes with arguments in favour of improvements to the comprehensiveness and accuracy of electoral rolls in both jurisdictions and the introduction in the Solomon Islands of reserved seats for women and a political party regulation regime.

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