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Fale Alea (Legislative Assembly)

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Fale Alea / Legislative Assembly
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) (from/to)23 April 2008
24 April 2008
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the elective seats in Parliament on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.
The April 2008 elections were the first to be held since November 2006 when a pro-democracy rally urging the Government to speed up the pace of reform turned into a riot in which eight people were killed and the much of the business district of the capital Nuku'alofa was set on fire. The ensuing state of emergency was maintained until the 2008 elections.

Five pro-democracy members of the Legislative Assembly were charged with sedition and abetting a riot including four from the Friendly Island Human Rights and Democracy Movement (FIHRDM) and one from the People's Democratic Party (PDP). The FIHRDM had been officially registered as a political party after the March 2005 elections. It split in April 2005 however and the defectors formed the PDP under the leadership of Mr. Tesina Fuko.

The 32-member Legislative Assembly is composed of nine directly elected members (commoners) nine indirectly elected members (nobles) and 14 members appointed by the King. In the March 2005 elections pro-democracy candidates won eight of the nine commoners' seats. After the elections two commoners were appointed to the government for the first time in 130 years of constitutional monarchy. Ms. Lepolo Taunisila was elected in the by-election to fill one of those seats vacated by the two commoners becoming the first woman to enter the Legislative Assembly since 1980.

Pro-democracy members advocated that political reform be introduced in 2008 including the creation of single nationwide constituency. The Prime Minister promised to introduce reforms in 2010 when the majority of members in the Legislative Assembly are expected to become directly elected.

In all 71 candidates including the nine outgoing commoners and eight women were vying for the nine commoner seats. As political parties are not allowed to submit candidates for the elections all candidates stood as independents. Many of them nevertheless campaigned under the banner of their political party. Under the new campaign rules candidates were not allowed to broadcast any election programme on the state-owned Tonga Broadcasting Corporation prompting accusations of censorship.

On 24 April 46.69 per cent of some 68 000 registered voters turned out for the elections.

Four FIHRDM and two PDP candidates were elected. The three remaining seats were won by independent candidates who are also reportedly close to the pro-democracy parties. Four of the outgoing members charged in connection with the 2006 riot were re-elected including Mr. 'Akilisi Pohiva (FIHRDM) who won the highest number of votes (11 290).

In the indirect elections for noble representatives held the day before all 29 eligible nobles cast their ballot. Outgoing Speaker Tu'iha'angana lost his seat. No women were elected.

On 2 May King George Tupou V appointed Mr. Tu'ilakepa a noble representative from Vava'u as the new Speaker. The newly elected Legislative Assembly held its first session on 29 May.
Voter turnout
Round no 1 (from/to)23 April 2008
24 April 2008
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
32'091 (46.69%)

Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
- Legislative Assembly (23.07.2009)
- Prime Minister's Office (30.07.2008 23.07.2009)
- http://www.pmo.gov.to

Note on the number of women:
No women were elected in 2008. One woman was appointed to the Cabinet. As cabinet ministers also sit in parliament there is one woman out of a total of 32 members. (Prime Minister's Office 30.07.2008)

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