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World > Oceania > Papua New Guinea > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Papua New Guinea - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Papua New Guinea, a constitutional monarchy, recognizes the Queen of England as head of state. She is represented by a Governor General who is elected by Parliament and who performs mainly ceremonial functions. Papua New Guinea has three levels of government--national, provincial, and local. There is a 109-member unicameral Parliament, whose members are elected every five (5) years. The Parliament in turn elects the prime minister, who appoints his cabinet from members of his party or coalition.

Members of Parliament are elected from 19 provinces and the national capital district of Port Moresby. Parliament introduced reforms in June 1995 to change the provincial government system, with regional (at-large) members of Parliament becoming provincial governors, while retaining their national seats in Parliament.

Papua New Guinea's judiciary is independent of the government. It protects constitutional rights and interprets the laws. There are several levels, culminating in the Supreme Court.

Papua New Guinea's politics are highly competitive with most members elected on a personal and ethnic basis within their constituencies rather than as a result of party affiliation. Members of Parliament are now elected in a limited preferential voting (LPV) system. There are several parties, but party allegiances are not strong. Winning candidates are usually courted in efforts to forge the majority needed to form a government, and allegiances are fluid. No single party has yet won enough seats to form a government in its own right. As the majority of Parliamentarians do not retain their seats (75% lost in 2002), party structure is weak and national leadership is not stable. The current government was formed by a coalition of several parties after the 2002 election in which virtually the entire previous cabinet lost their seats. Sir Michael Somare, the leader of the National Alliance (and the nation?s first Prime Minister in 1975), was elected Prime Minister.

Papua New Guinea has a history of changes in government coalitions and leadership from within Parliament during the five (5) year intervals between national elections. New governments are protected by law from votes of no confidence for the first 18 months of their incumbency, and no votes of no confidence may be moved in the 12 months preceding a national election. In an effort to create greater stability by reducing incessant votes of no confidence, the Integrity of Political Parties Act was passed in 1999, forbidding members of each party in Parliament from shifting loyalty to another party.

In 2003, the electoral system was changed to limited preferential voting, which many hope will encourage politicians to strike alliances and to be responsive to constituent concerns once elected. The new system was first used in a 2004 by-election with modest, but positive results.

On Bougainville Island, a 10 year rebellion was halted by a truce in 1997 and a permanent cease-fire was signed in April 1998. A peace agreement between the Government and ex-combatants was signed in August 2001. Under the eyes of a regional peace-monitoring force and a UN observer mission, the government and provincial leaders established an interim administration and made significant progress toward complete surrender/destruction of weapons. A constitution was drafted in 2004 and provincial government elections were held in May 2005. The elections were deemed to be free and fair by international observers, and Joseph Kabui was elected to serve as the first president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Principal Government Officials
Governor General--Sir Paulias Matane
Prime Minister--Sir Michael Somare
Deputy Prime Minister--Don Polye
Foreign Minister--Paul Tiensten
Ambassador to the United Nations--Robert Aisi
Ambassador to the United States--Evan Paki

Papua New Guinea maintains an embassy at 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-745-3680; fax 202-745-3679). The Papua New Guinea mission to the United Nations is at 801 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-682-6447).


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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