|130th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. © IPU/Giancarlo Fortunato|
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) welcomed new member Tonga at the opening of its 130th Assembly in Geneva today. The admission of Tonga brings to 164 the number of IPU member parliaments.
“IPU has been committed to greater engagement with and support for parliaments in the Pacific region which face very particular challenges. Tonga’s membership of IPU is a positive result of that engagement to help it and others in the region develop strong democracies backed by fully representative parliaments,” said IPU President Abdelwahad Radi.
A constitutional monarchy where the King retains considerable power, Tonga has in recent years pursued a strong reform agenda.
The 2010 elections saw the majority of parliamentarians directly elected for the first time. The new 26-member Fale Alea - Legislative Assembly - comprises 17 directly elected members (commoners) and nine indirectly elected members (nobles).
Several parties were formed prior to the 2010 elections which brought the country a more representative political system. In all, 147 candidates, including 10 women, contested the 2010 elections. Nearly 91 per cent of the 42,000 registered voters turned out for the polls. However, no women were elected to parliament.