Predicting the 2019 Solomon Islands elections
By Terence Wood
Elections are coming to Solomon Islands. Predictions are never easy in politics but here’s what I think the elections will bring (coupled with my degree of confidence in brackets, ranging from confident to completely confused).
The election will be run fairly well (quite confident)
Recent elections in Solomon Islands have been pretty well run. Not without hitches, but better than those in Papua New Guinea, and better than average for a country of Solomon Islands’ level of economic development. As I’ve explained before, past success has come both from donor assistance and the efforts of local electoral officials. Also, electoral violence is not normalised in Solomon Islands in the way it is in parts of Highlands PNG.
All of these causes of past success are present again in 2019, which bodes well. The only reason I’m not completely confident of a reasonable election is that a recent electoral law change allowed voters to enrol from outside of their electorates. Some candidates took advantage of this change to register paid supporters in constituencies they weren’t from. This may cause problems come election day – both rigged results, and perhaps tensions as locals confront illegitimate voters.
The risk is higher in some places than others. One potentially fraught electorate is Gizo Kolombangara, where a former prime minister is striving to regain his seat. The roll in Gizo Kolombangara is now 65 per cent larger than in 2014 – implausibly large and an obvious concern. In addition to Gizo Kolombangara, there are a small number of other electorates (particularly in Malaita and Honiara) where either roll inflation or local advice points to difficult elections. (Data for all electorates are here.)
The frenetic period of government formation in the elections wake is another possible flash point. New MPs appear to …read more