Sunday, March 21, 2021

Political Parties and Candidates – The Relationship and the Importance.

By Solomon Puana
Political parties and candidates are key political actors in the election process. Political parties are made up of individuals (members/candidates) who share a common interest or belief in the development of the community and the country.
Candidates who stand for public office are members of political parties or as independents which defines a candidate’s interest/belief and policy position while reflecting a list of issues with which the electorate can identify based upon a political party platform as mirrored in the candidate’s election promises to the public. Candidates represent a party platform or independent platform and with the help and the support of their political parties and supporters, they stand for election, carry out election campaigns, and try to gain support of the people to vote for them.
Political parties and candidates are also political actors that have the potential to be a negative force in the election process. Corrupt practices such as vote-buying, bribery, accusing and defaming of other candidates characters and standing during campaigning, forcing people to vote for a candidate and corruption in election-related decision-making are all examples of where political parties and candidates threaten the functioning of democratic systems rather than support it.
Number of Candidates endorsed by parties from 2002 to 2017 elections:
• 2002 Elections: According 2002 election records 2870 candidates stood for 103 seats. Note: Six electorates in the Southern Highlands Province were declared failed elections by the Electoral Commission. Supplementary elections were held again in May-April in 2003.
• 2007 Elections: A total of 2759 candidates nominated for the 109 seats; just over half of these (1478) stood as independents and 1285 were party endorsed candidates. There were 2658 male candidates and 103 female candidates.
• 2012 Elections: At the time of the 2012 elections a record 46 political parties were registered under the OLIPPAC, 42 of which endorsed candidates in the election. Fifteen of these were new parties. Only 1250 of the 3428 candidates represented political parties: the election saw a high percentage of independent candidates, with 2185 standing as independents.
• 2017 Elections: A total of 45 political parties were registered at that time. According to the official nominations listing by the PNG Electoral Commission 2017, only 31 political parties contested the 2017 general election by fielding candidates while 14 political parties did not endorse any candidates at all. Table below shows the number of candidates endorsed by Political Parties since 2002 – 2017 elections.