A Look At Some Post-Election Changes

THE DEMAND FOR CHANGE has always been on the voters list, and just by looking at the unofficial results from the snap election major changes have already happened for party compositions with some parties losing numbers while others gain more. The assurance of changes by the successful candidates have yet to be seen, but the atmosphere seems to have changed and the political spectrum for the next four years will be an interesting one to monitor.

The Snap Election of 22 January 2016 was expected to be a showdown between the political power-houses in Vanuatu while general light expectations was felt for the independent candidates. However, the independent candidates proved this conception wrong and were warmly embraced by the voters for their caliber and vision.

The major hurdles of the previous year had pushed for more emphasis on integrity and corruption as a political platform, with this same sentiment voters at large rallied for changes within the system.

From an observation point of view, voter participation looks to have improved. However, without an accurate electoral roll it would be unwise to claim that there has been a factual increase, thereby denying us the prompt opportunity to declare that a change has occurred. A calculative change at present is found in the numerical difference when the number of winning voters of 2012 is compared with the number of winning voters (unofficial counts) of 2016.

Unofficial results show that voters that have successfully elected representatives for the new legislature has increased by 4,305 voters, thus totaling 47,609 voters.

Coincidentally, it may be evident that the decrease in the number of candidates that contested the Snap Election may be the cause of this slight increase in the number of winning votes. Candidate numbers decreased by 24 percent from the 345 candidates that contested the 2012 General Election.

Thoughts provided by random individuals say that change is finally here, however to think that way may still be premature because the successful candidates have yet to fulfil their parliamentary obligations with impact. Most of the Members of Parliament have three roles to perform while in office; that of a parliamentarian, constituency representative, and party member.

The leading candidates from the snap election, especially the newcomers, are expected to be a thriving force. The experience, the wealth of knowledge, and the passion that will enter the 11th legislature looks fruitful.

Over the last couple of years a lot of opinion has been raised regarding candidate criteria, specifically on individual academic qualifications and personal achievements. Clearly, according to unofficial results, it looks like the voters have become more practical in expressing their leadership choices.

According to unofficial results, the 11th legislature of parliament will include at least three lawyers, a medical doctor, a trade unionist, Masters and Degree certificate holders, former senior public servants, businessmen, and including very vibrant community leaders.

The people of Vanuatu deserve good and honest development, this was the message that was delivered by candidates during their campaigns when they preached for change. Anti-corruption was a particular prime topic for several of the campaign teams. Will they fulfill their campaign assurances? Only time will tell. But whatever happens we must continue to fight the good fight, and we must continue to provide the necessary support for our Members of Parliament.

This few post-election changes happened because the voters said so, and more is yet to come in the next four years. And if things do not turn out the way you expected you always have that right to demand from your elected representative a valid explanation.

If you are interested to know more about the role of Members of Parliament please visit the Transparency International Vanuatu office or call us at 25715. Email: transparency@vanuatu.com.vu

 

 

 

 

Voters Are Keeping A Watchful Eye On Their Elected Candidates

NOW THAT WE have 52 members of Parliament being elected as per the un-official result, voters are now expecting their candidates or political party to adhere to their campaign messages and promises.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) went around and spoke to several voters about what they expect from their elected candidates. A male youth, aged 23, told TIV that he was happy with his vote in the snap election because he chose a right person. A person who is qualified and believes will voice his concerns in the parliament.

“I voted for a Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP) candidate who was among the leading candidates in the snap election. I just want to remind my candidate that when you are in the parliament please do not forget the people who voted for you,” the youth said.

The 23 year old also explained that “when you are there in parliament, please do continue to come down to the community sometimes and visit us, see our needs and support us in developing our community.”


 

“I want you to treat us all like we expect you to,” the youth said.


Another female youth of 28 years old, who also voted for a Graon mo Jastis Pati candidate said she is looking up to her candidate in the next four years time.

“Our livelihood this next four years depends on the decisions that you will make,” she said.

WATCHFUL EYE

“I believe people with high qualifications will make a change in the next four years. Therefore I just want to congratulate and encourage that the good works be continued to promote accountability in leadership” she explained.

This female youth continued to say that “since your (GJP) policies are about Lands and Justice we ask you to consider the impacts any land regulations may have on custom land owner lands before passing bills in the parliament. Also justice must always prevail like what we have seen in 2015 where 14 members of parliament were jailed for bribery. People were satisfied to see that justice was served, and that should be maintained.”

TIV also met a 70 year old male from the Island of Ambae who voted proxy in his home Island.He said his candidate contested under the Nagriamel Party.

When TIV asked him if he was satisfied with his proxy vote he responded with a big smile on his face, “Yes I am happy because when the unofficial results were released, my candidate was one of the names who won.”

He continued to say that “it is important for our candidate to think about people at the grassroots level. Pay regular visits to us in the community and help us with our needs to develop our communities in the Island. Also, if you happen to secure a portfolio in the government, always remember the people. Do notbe like the past MPs who never came to our home Island to visit us but would only visit during election campaign periods.”

In addition, a mother of two kids living at Freswota Four area told TIV that MP salaries and employee’s salaries must both be reconsidered.

“Cut down MPs salaries, increase MP allocation, increase minimum wages for employees both private and government and help provide more job opportunities,” she said.

The mother also suggested that all government households should be repaired and rented out to generate more government revenue.

Also, “since my candidate is a lawyer belonging to the Union of Moderate Party (UMP), he should make a law that will require MPs who want to join another party must formally resign. And then they must apply to join another party,” she added.

Moreover, TIV also spoke to two Ifira boatmen aged 34 and 23. They were proud to have casted their votes for a Labor Party candidate who is among the leading candidates in the unofficial results.

“We are very happy with our votes. And now that he will be securing a seat in the parliament we just ask him to work on his policies and that they are fulfilled” they said.“And He must not neglect the grass root level people, this is very important,” one of them pointed out.

Furthermore, a Vanua’Ku Party (VP) voter, who is a 60 years old elderly man, told TIV that he wants his candidate to concentrate on developing communities and not fill up supporter’s pockets.

“The candidate that I voted for in Vila won his seat and he belongs to Vanua’Ku Party. My message to him is clear: do not give or accept any form of bribery; concentrate on developing community services, do not fill supporters’ pockets improve urban health services in Vila so that Vila Central Hospital can concentrate on dealing with referred or serious cases only; and last but not the least VP must have a youth wing so that transitional planning can be encouraged. It will help ease the handover of power from the old politicians to the young leaders,” the 60 year old voter said.

With regards to the role of an MP, the Vanuatu Parliament website explains it clearly. According to the site most MP’s are viewed as “having three roles that of a parliamentarian, constituency representative, and party member.”

If you are interested to know more about the role of Members of Parliament please visit the Transparency International Vanuatu office or call us at 25715. Email: transparency@vanuatu.com.vu

WATCH: Voters share their opinions from the island of Santo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questionable Acts

Is it corruption when a political camp feeds the whole community? Or when bags of second hand clothing are delivered to communities by a contesting candidate?

Reports of questionable acts by several candidates who contested this snap election surfaced from around the islands of Vanuatu. Several incidents of questionable acts informed to Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) by citizenry observers identify as bribery, gift giving, and treating. All of this acts are labeled as corruption under the Representation of the Peoples Act.

In one particular report a candidate was said to be distributing copper roofing’s to households during the night, and in another report a shipment of bags of rice, cartons of canned fish and bales of sugar were delivered to the supporters of a candidate on one island.

Furthermore, information received from an advocator against corruption claim that an amount of around VT300, 000 was allegedly given to a provincial councilor by a former member of parliament.

Also reported was that some political supports were going around to pay voting cards at the price of VT3, 000 to VT4, 000.

On 19 January, which was the last the day for the campaigns, information received by Transparency International Vanuatu claimed that a candidate was planning to host a ‘Pablik kakae’ as part of their campaign rally. A public feasting would of course fall well under the offence of Treating.

Treating happens when political parties and candidates provide foods and drinks to people who come and listen to their campaign. It means paying for a voter’s kava or food for the purpose of influencing the voter to vote in ones favor, this is an offence under the Representation of the People’s Act.

Also received was an allegation that a certain candidate had given VT10, 000 to pay food at a children’s party. Furthermore, reports surfaced alleging that a candidate had bought cattle and materials to give to a group.

Moreover, a candidate reportedly used a donor-funded project that cost over four million vatu as propaganda for his campaign while a school was closed, and was promised only to reopen, if a certain candidate was voted by the students’ parents.

The last two weeks of election campaigning has so far raised a lot of questionable acts to ponder on,  however in most areas contacted the perspective was different with one observer stating that “this area is clean,” meaning activities like bribery, treating and exedra have not been heard of since the start of the election campaigning period on 5 January.

The allegations of corruption contained in this story have been provided by ordinary citizens from around Vanuatu who are tired of corruption. They have been advised to properly record these corrupt activities and to report them to the appropriate authority to investigate.

Transparency International Vanuatu is available to assist any corruption complaints from members of the public specifically during this election period. 


 

Other related stories:

  1. Transparency Vanuatu raises election bribery concerns – Radio New Zealand.
  2. Election bribery report a concern to Vanuatu NGO – Radio New Zealand.
  3. Transparency International Vanuatu says election was not clean in some outer islands. – ABC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voter Turnout Statistics Since 1983

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU undertook a desk-based research on voter turnout in Vanuatu between 1983 and 2012 and noticed that the voter turnout has been decreasing over the years.

In 1983 there were 59, 712 registered voters and 44, 726 people had cast their votes; this means that around 75 per cent of voters voted during the 1983 general election.

In 1987, the voter turnout increased by eight per cent, which means that 83 percent of registered voters had cast their votes during the 1987 general election.

In 1998 voter turnout proved to be the lowest of all national elections at only 38%, however the figures slowly increased over the years and by 2008 voter turnout climaxed at 70 percent.

Unfortunately, the 2008 turnout could not hold as a baseline and eventually the numbers dropped down to 63 percent. Although the number of registered voters increased from 59,717 to 192,632 only 121, 792 people voted during the 2012 general elections.

The recent snap election official voter turnout is yet to be released by the Electoral Office.


 

Voter Turnout Since 1983

(Source of Info: Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance)

Year Voter Turn­out Total vote Regi­­stration VAP Turn­out Voting age popu­­lation Popu­lation Invalid votes
2012 63.‌22% 121,792 192,632 85% 143,293 256,155 1.‌30%
2008 70.‌38% 107,002 152,043 82.‌78% 129,255 230,820 1.‌40%
2004 68.‌58% 91,551 133,497 79.‌30% 115,450 205,754 1.‌20%
2002 63.‌47% 80,657 127,069 74.‌18% 108,735 192,910 1.‌80%
1998 39.‌87% 42,778 107,297 47.‌63% 89,820 186,277 0.‌10%
1995 72.‌44% 76,522 105,631 78.‌60% 97,362 169,000 0.‌60%
1991 71.‌30% 62,527 87,695 70.‌69% 88,458 153,000
1987 83% 58,100 70,000 69.‌30% 83,833 145,000
1983 74.‌90% 44,726 59,712 62.‌39% 71,692 124,000 0.‌10%