By Madeline Saga
The Registry of Political was part of a delegation that included party executives selected by the UNDP who also funded and organised the forum on political parties in Honiara, Solomon Islands from the 18th to 19th September 2019.
The theme of this forum was specifically to create inclusive political parties by identifying core groups such as women and youth who play an important role in maintaining an effective party. Key participants included electoral commissions, registries of political parties and commissions and executives of political parties from countries namely Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tonga.
The two day forum included sessions on sharing examples of guidelines for inclusive political parties, the role of Political Party regulators in promoting inclusivity and making political parties inclusive of youth and other marginalised groups.
Participating political parties also gave their experiences about the challenges they faced when trying to apply inclusivity that include common issues such as:
Duplication of marginalised groups
The size of membership and leader focused
Electoral systems failure to play its role
Resources to fund political parties in general
Party constitution rules and regulations
Political Party Laws
Having said that, a number of case studies were presented where inclusivity was achieved by introducing changes in either their electoral laws or party laws. Nepal in particular was a classic example whereby a shift from First past the post electoral system to the parallel system also encouraged the introduction of the Electoral Candidates Quota system in all levels of society. Parallel voting describes a mixed electoral system where voters in effect participate in two separate elections for a single chamber using different systems, and where the results in one election have little or no impact on the results of the other.
This forum was a follow up from last year held in Vanuatu and the first in Fiji in the previous year as part of the on-going support of ensuring political parties within the region work in partnership to allow effective democratic principles are upheld through political parties from each country. A similar forum will take place in November in Port Moresby that will include political party executives and women intending candidates.