Friday, November 17, 2006

Tonga: but is it enough?

Yesterday's riots seem to have shocked the Tongan Parliament into action, and produced a promise of democratic reforms. The proportion of democratically elected MPs will rise from slightly under half to two-thirds at the next election in 2008 (one third will still be "elected" by the nobles - giving them on average one MP for every three nobles. I guess some people just count for more than others in Tonga). It doesn't sound like much, but it is the crucial step which will allow the people to force further reforms at their own pace. The question is whether it will be enough, or whether the people will demand more rapid progress such as an end to noble over-representation, a fully democratic electoral system, and a Prime Minister and cabinet drawn solely from Parliament rather than appointed to it.