Understanding Electoral Politics in Solomon Islands

Author/s (editor/s):

Terence Wood

Publication year:

2014

Publication type:

Discussion paper

The Melanesian state of Solomon Islands is scheduled to hold its next national election in late 2014. These will be the country's ninth general election since it became an independent state in 1978 and, by developing country standards, it has performed admirably in regularly holding reasonably free and fair democratic elections. However, democracy has not brought with it good governance. Solomon Islands ranks poorly in most governance indicators - in government effectiveness, for example, it fell in the bottom quartile of all countries for which the World Bank had data on in 2012 (World Bank 2013). Members of parliament (MPs) perform their legislative function poorly, and government departments under-provide, or fail altogether in providing key public goods and services, in part because of poor political management. This paper discusses elections, electoral politics, and governance in Solomon Islands. The paper then discusses voter behaviour (why voters vote for the candidates they vote for) before explaining how the choices voters make contribute, amongst other factors, to Solomon Islands' political problems. In its concluding section, the paper assesses the potential for, and potential causes of, political change, also discussing the ramifications for aid donors and their work.

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