Tuesday, June 27, 2023

2022 National General Elections Preliminary Findings

By Emmanuel Pok
1. Introduction
The National General Election is a significant national event, where it is conducted every five years. The political parties with their elected members are given the mandate by the people through the national elections to be in the parliament. During this national event, state institutions and other stakeholders also participate in the conduct of the elections to make sure that the election activities and the electoral processes are undertaken according to the law and follows democratic best practices.
The election observation is the process by which state agencies and other stakeholders or independent organizations deploy observers to witness the electoral process. The process of election observation has been an important avenue for the Registry of Political Parties to monitor and observe the performances of political parties and their candidates in terms of popularity, performance of women candidates and at the same time to gauze the views and feedbacks of the voters and supporters on what they think about political parties.
As a constitutional office mandated by the Papua New Guinea’s National Constitution through the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC), its mandate is to administer the affairs of political parties and their candidates and to protect the elections from outside and hidden influences (Part VI Subdivision H. PNG Constitution, 59). The Registry of Political Parties main function is to ensure that there is political stability and integrity within the parliamentary system of government. It also ensures that Political Parties as institutions of the State complies with the OLIPPAC in carrying out their day to day party activities.
Moreover, the Registry of Political Parties at all times promote the idea of democracy in terms of equal participation and representation in parliament. It has seen that this has been an ongoing issue where although women have contested in every election, there has still been a low parliamentary representation for women on the floor of Parliament in PNG. After the 2017 National Elections, the outcome in terms of women representation was that no single seat was won, and all three seats occupied by women were all lost. As a result, the Registry has made its position clear that the number of women to contest the elections needs to be increased and more seats to be won in Parliament.
So, the Registry in the last five years has encouraged political parties to endorse an equal number of both men and women to contest for elections. The reason behind this commitment is because the Registry is committed in promoting democracy in our country. The important principle of equality and inclusiveness is what the Registry dearly holds on to. And that is what the Registry wants to be entrenched in our country by having more women as members of political parties and political parties to endorse more women in elections and for them to be successful.
In this 2022 national election, the Registry of Political Parties randomly selected specific seats to observe based on the mandate and main focus to observe and reflect the performances of political parties with their candidates and women candidates, and most importantly the electoral process as well.
2. Electorates Observed
The Electorates observed were randomly selected and considered by the Registry as 'specific and significant Seats' as they were contested by women candidates or have national and political significance such as Political Party Leaders, former Prime Ministers and also other interested candidates (i.e. Political Party Executives who will be contesting the 2022 national election).

The following are the specific Seats observed:
Eastern Highlands Eastern Highlands Provincial Women candidate (Former Governor) Goroka Open Women Candidate Western Highlands Western Highlands Provincial Party Leader Hagen Open Party Leader Jiwaka Jiwaka Provincial Party Leader Anglimb South Waghi Open Women Candidates Enga Enga Provinical & Wabag Open Party Founder & Leader SOUTHERN REGION
Milne Bay Milne Bay Provincial Party Leader/Women candidate Alotau Open Women candidates Samarai-Murua Open Party Executive/Women candidate Gulf Kerema Open Former IPPCC Staff Central Central Provincial Women candidates Abau Open Party Leader Rigo Open Women Candidates Hiri-Koiari Open Women Candidates Kairuku Open Women Candidates National Capital District NCD Provincial Women candidates Moresby North-East Open Women candidates Moresby North-West Open Women Candidates Moresby South Open Women Candidates Oro Oro Provincial Party Leader & Women candidates Sohe Open Women candidates Popondetta Open Party Leader MOMASE REGION
East Sepik East Sepik Provincial Party Leader/Women candidates Yangoru-Saussia Open Party Leader Madang Madang Open Party Leader/Women candidates Morobe Morobe Provincial/Markham Open/Huon Gulf Open/Lae Open Women candidates NEW GUINEA ISLANDS REGION
New Ireland Kavieng Open 2 dominant parties (NA&PPP)/Women candidates West New Britain West New Britain Provincial Women candidates Talasea Open Women Candidates Nakanai Open East New Britain Kokopo Open Women Candidates
Year Total number of Candidates No. of Party Endorsed Candidates No. of Independent Candidates No. of Female Candidates No. of Male Candidates 2022 3620 1261 2359 159 3461 Total number of candidates that contested the 2022 NGE
Year of Election Party Endorsed Women Candidates Independent Women Candidates Total women Candidates Female MP’s in Parliament 2022 64 95 159 2 Party Endorsement of Women Candidates & Women Members in Parliament 3. Key Findings
Campaign and Polling Period  Campaigning was more intense at the last two weeks of the campaign period.  Campaign rallies were conducted in a central area only by major political parties (i.e. PNC and Pangu Pati)  Party branding through posters, banners and merchandising was evident mostly by well-established parties.  Political parties and candidates alike have used social media as an effective form of displaying campaign messaging and branding.  Support to political parties was lacking.  Political Party support to women candidates was still lacking. Parties tended to support women candidates in terms of nominations who were popular media personalities.  Women candidates supported other women candidates during campaigning using LPV.  Supporters and voters were not party followers but were interested only in party merchandises and campaign materials.  Voters support to women candidates especially women voters. Women still voted for male candidates.  Votes pre-determined and marked by one person (tanim box and katim vote)  Bribery, intimidation, and hijacking of ballot boxes and papers was evident (i.e. at Maninga Field in Goroka)  Voters voting on candidates’ personalities and not on party lines.  Block voting - Votes based on tribal, clans and family ties (especially in the Highlands region).  Women voters turned away because the votes been pre-determined.  Voters’ names not on the common roll although voter turn-out had increased compared to 2017 NGE.  Under age voting was evident.  108 seats won by Party endorsed candidates including 2 women party endorsed candidates  9 seats won by independent candidates  Appointment of PPC’s, Provincial Administrators, Returning Officers and etc at the eve of elections has caused inconvenience and delay in the election processes.  Polling venues started very late.
4. Recommendations  Revisit the Revised OLIPPAC and push for it to be passed in Parliament as it is an important Organic Law to strengthen the political party system and to also contribute to strengthen the electoral process.
 Revisit the Report on the Provincial Consultation on the Inquiry into the Organic Law on the National and Local-Level Government Elections and Related Laws and Systems that was submitted to the Parliament in 2019.
 Revisit the electoral process and improve on the voting system. Based on our observation, biometric voting system is the way forward in addressing many of the issues that occurred during the 2022 national elections
 Increase funding for awareness on political parties to be conducted in the rural and LLG based areas.
 LLG elections should be conducted before the National General Elections for the common roll vetting purposes.
 There should be no appointments of PPC’s, PA’s, RO’s and ARO’s and Election Managers on the eve of elections. Appointments must be done at least 3 months year prior to the National General Elections.
 More support to women candidates is required by political parties in terms of candidate selection and nomination as well as financial support.
 Stringent criteria is needed for political parties to select and nominate appropriate candidates.