Election of PNG Prime Minister

By: PNG Political Commentary FB Page

There has been a lot of confusion and also a lack of understanding in regards to the election of the PNG Prime Minister. Therefore I’m here to give an explanation on the election of the Prime Minister to clear the polluted air. And that’s right the Prime Minister is elected! Not appointed! That’s one thing you all have to understand. Who elects the Prime Minister? All 111 members of Parliament take part in the election of the Prime Minister.

Now let’s get down to basics. First of all it is the law that regulates or outlines the Prime Minister’s election process. The PNG Constitution, Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties (OLIPP), and the Parliamentary Standing Orders (PSO) are important laws to take note of.

 

Invitation to Form Government

• It all starts with an “Invitation to Form Government” (Section 63(1) OLIPP). Under this particular provision the Electoral Commission, on the date of the return of the writs, is mandatorily obliged to advise the Head of Stead (Governor General) of the political party which has endorsed the greatest number of candidates declared elected.

• After receiving the advice from Electoral Commission, the Governor General then, in accordance with the advice of the Electoral Commission, invites that particular political party to form government.

• Note that the Governor General cannot act on his own accord but only on the advice of the Electoral Commission. Also the Governor General is not at this point appointing a political party to form government but rather inviting it to form Government. Like for instance, someone sends you an invitation to go to a birthday Party. If you receive the invitation it doesn’t mean you’re already at the party, you may go or you may not go.

At this time according to the latest reports, it is evident that People’s National Congress Party (PNC) has the greatest numbers of candidates that have been duly declared as elected in 2017. Therefore there’s no doubt that PNC would be invited by the Governor General to form Government.

parliament

Election of Prime Minister under PSO section 7

This is the stage where things become technical but I’ll try to be as layman as possible.

• The Prime Minister is elected by members of Parliament normally during Parliament’s second meeting. The first Parliament meeting is convened after the due date of the return of the writs and is usually for swearing in of members, the election of the Speaker, and other official business (s142(3) PNG Constitution, see also case of Haiveta v Wingti & others [1994] PNGLR 197) .

• By virtue of section 63(4) of the OLIPP and section 7 of the PSO, the political party that has received the invitation to form government from the Governor General has the privilege of nominating a member of parliament to become Prime Minister. Parliament would then vote after the nomination and the nominated candidate would have to muster a simple majority in order to be elected and declared Prime Minister.

• If the candidate nominated by the invited political party does not receive a simple majority than Parliament would have to resort to section 7A of the PSO for the election of a Prime Minister.

• Take note that the procedure under section 7A of the PSO is only followed if the candidate nominated by the invited political party fails to secure a simple majority of votes to become the elected and declared Prime Minister.

• Simple majority should be around 50% of the total members of parliament. So 50% x 111= 55.5 round it up you get 56.

Election of Prime Minister under Section 7A PSO

• The Speaker of Parliament calls for nominations.

• At this stage the floor is open to all members of Parliament to make nominations.

• Under this process the privilege of nominating a candidate
for the Prime Minister’s seat is not only given to the party invited to form government but also other political parties.

• Members of Parliament can nominate more than one candidate for the Prime Minister’s seat under this process.

• A preferred nominated candidate for Prime Minister does not need to reach a simple majority of votes from members of parliament. The preferred nominated candidate only needs to receive a majority of votes in order for him to be declared as the duly elected Prime Minister (PSO section 7A(11) ).

If PNC and its coalition partners increases to 56 or more, most likely we’ll see PNC’s Party Leader retain his seat as Prime Minister and the formation of a PNC coalition government. On the other hand if the Eastern Alliance Camp increases we might see a change of government. Remember this is Papua New Guinea, so expect the unexpected…

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