Politics of Tonga

Last updated
This article has not yet been updated to reflect the democratic reforms implemented in 2010.

Politics of Tonga takes place in a framework of a constitutional monarchy, whereby the King is the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Tonga's Prime Minister is currently appointed by the King from among the members of Parliament after having won the support of a majority of its members. Executive power is vested in the Cabinet of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in the King in Parliament, and judicial power is vested in the supreme court.

Contents

Tonga joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970, and the United Nations in 1999. While exposed to colonial forces, Tonga has never lost indigenous governance, a fact that makes Tonga unique in the Pacific and boosts confidence in the monarchical system. The British High Commission in Tonga closed in March 2006.

Tonga's current king, Tupou VI, traces his line directly back through six generations of monarchs. The previous king, George Tupou V, born in 1946, continued to have ultimate control of the government until July 2008. At that point, concerns over financial irregularities and calls for democracy led to his relinquishing most of his day-to-day powers over the government. [1]

Executive

Main office holders
OfficeNamePartySince
King Tupou VI 18 March 2012
Prime Minister Pōhiva Tuʻiʻonetoa Independent 27 September 2019

Its executive includes the prime minister and the cabinet, which becomes the Privy Council when presided over by the monarch. In intervals between legislative sessions, the Privy Council makes ordinances, which become law if confirmed by the legislature. The monarch is hereditary, the prime minister and deputy prime minister are appointed for life by the monarch, the Cabinet is appointed by the monarch.

Legislature

The Legislative Assembly is composed of representatives of the Nobles and representatives of the people. This composition is established by Article 59 of the Constitution as amended by the " Constitution of Tonga amendment Act 2010 " [2] Article 51 of the same Act allows the PM to nominate and the King to appoint up to 4 extra cabinet members from outside the Assembly.

The current composition is:

Political parties and elections

The electoral system was changed in April 2010, with 17 of 26 representatives now directly elected. [3]

By-elections

Below is a list of recent or upcoming by-elections:

ElectionDateReasonWinner
2005 Tongatapu by-election 5 May 2005 Feleti Sevele's elevation to Cabinet Clive Edwards
2011 Tongatapu 9 by-election 15 September 2011Death of Kaveinga Fa’anunu Falisi Tupou (DPFI)
2016 Vavaʻu 16 by-election 14 July 2016 ‘Etuate Lavulavu's election voided (bribery and campaign overspending) 'Akosita Lavulavu
2019 Tongatapu 1 by-election 28 November 2019Death of ʻAkilisi Pōhiva Siaosi Pohiva (DPFI)

Courts

Supreme Court of Tonga, 2007 Supreme Court of Tonga, 2007. Photo- AusAID (10727839174).jpg
Supreme Court of Tonga, 2007
Tongan lawyer Female Tongan lawyer.jpg
Tongan lawyer

Tonga's court system consists of the Court of Appeal (Privy Council), the Supreme Court, the Magistrates' Court, and the Land Court. Judges are appointed by the monarch.

The judiciary is headed by a Chief Justice. The current Chief Justice is Michael Hargreaves Whitten.

Administrative divisions

Tonga is divided in three island groups; Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u. The only form of local government is through town and district officials who have been popularly elected since 1965. The town official represents the central government in the villages, the district official has authority over a group of villages.

See also

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Constitution of Tonga

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2010 Tongan general election

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Privy Council of Tonga

The Privy Council of Tonga is the highest ranking council to advise the Monarch in the Kingdom of Tonga. It is empowered to advise the King in his capacity as Head of State and Fountain of Justice under the provisions of Clause 50 of the Constitution of Tonga:

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2017 Tongan general election

General elections were held in Tonga on 16 November 2017 to elect 17 of the 26 seats to the Legislative Assembly. King Tupou VI dissolved the Assembly on 25 August 2017 on the advice of its Speaker, Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō, who claimed that Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva was attempting to claim powers held by the King and Privy Council within Cabinet.

References

  1. "Tonga's king to cede key powers", BBC, July 29, 2008
  2. http://crownlaw.gov.to/cms/images/LEGISLATION/AMENDING/2010/2010-0020/ActofConstitutionofTongaAmendmentNo.2Act2010.pdf
  3. "Tonga's pro-democracy movement hails assembly reform". Radio New Zealand International. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-04-22.