PROJECT TYPE: Elections
TIPNG fielded 282 observers for the 2012 national parliamentary elections. This is more than double the number of observers compared with 2007. These observers came from all sectors of society and from a range of urban and rural locations. Communities, almost without exception , welcomed our observers and felt they contributed to building the integrity of the process. The TIPNG 2012 elections observations report records what the observers saw and other data as well as discussing key issues around election integrity.
It is TIPNG’s view that the 2012 National Parliamentary Elections were seriously flawed to the extent that our democratic traditions are continuing to be seriously compromised – and as a consequence the trust in the electoral process continues to dissipate. However, trust in the process is critical to the on-going democratic development of our society. We are not alone in our concerns, as what we say appears to be very similar to not only many of our leaders but also the Commonwealth Observer Group and the heads of some of the diplomatic missions and some of our own leaders. Our observers’ reports highlight these concerns, indicating that in 21% of polling places observed the election was either mostly unfair or very unfair. This is unacceptable. Furthermore, a large number of people appear to have been disenfranchised as a result of roll inaccuracy and possibly wrongful removal from the roll. This brings into question whether the will of the people was truly expressed. This problem was compounded by inadequate application of procedures and law, especially in regards to the use of the roll and the identification of voters. We were also very concerned by the highly variable application of the secret ballot, which we believe should NOT be compromised for the sake of cultural difference, if that was ever a relevant argument.
Why is trust in the electoral process declining? We have identified the following problems:
These are major contributors to this decline in trust in the electoral process. We see many of the problems as fixable, especially if there is more focus on incentivising good behaviour and longer term public education, rather than relying so greatly on force.
TIPNG applauds donor interest in supporting democracy and governance programmes and much of the longer term work done by the Electoral Support Programme, TIPNG would like to see a major focus on improving the PNG Electoral Commission and areas of government responsibility impacting the conduct of elections. We recommend also careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of providing “surge” capacity for the 2017 elections as opposed to commencing action and education now, in preparation for those elections and other local level and by-elections looming.
The board and membership of TIPNG believe the tax paying citizens both private and corporate of Papua New Guinea, deserve better and believe this is achievable – and probably within the current budget of the PNGEC and with no greater level of funding support from donors.