Persistence pays: the case of PNG politician Julie Soso
By Theresa Meki
In their systematic analysis of Papua New Guinea (PNG) election data looking at whether women candidates do better when they stand more than once, Terence Wood and Thomas Wangi found that women tend to perform poorly after their first attempt. Their research showed that most of the time, women candidates performed worse the more often they stood. However, there are exceptions. Former Eastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso is one example. I would like to contribute to this discussion by providing a bit of insight into Julie Soso’s case.
Table 1 shows Soso’s performance over time from when she first ran in 1997, until her victory in 2012 and defeat in 2017.
Table 1: Election outcome data for Julie Soso 1997–2017
First preference votes
Rank (first preferences)
Note: Limited preferential voting replaced first past the post in 2007
When Soso first contested in 1997, she managed to secure 5.2 per cent of the 228,639 total allowable ballot, and finished fourth in a field of 36. In her second attempt in 2002, she placed fifth in a field of 26 candidates with 4.9 per cent of the total vote. While she received a smaller percentage of votes, she showed in her second attempt that she still had a substantial vote base. In 2007, with the introduction of limited preferential voting (LPV), the number of candidates vying for the regional seat went back up to 36. That year was Soso’s poorest performance, finishing in eighth place. While her 4.7 per cent share of the vote was her lowest, it again showed that she still had a substantial following.
Finally, Soso surprised everyone with her 2012 win. She was one of the three successful women candidates in the 2012 national elections, and she credited her win to limited preferential voting, stating that it was the …read more