Friday, May 14, 2010

Another election in Nauru?

Last month, the people of Nauru went to the polls in parliamentary elections. The elections were called in an effort to break a political deadlock - parliament was evenly split between supporters and opponents of President Marcus Stephen, and repeated confidence votes were becoming disruptive. However, the move failed - every single incumbent MP was re-elected, and the deadlock remained. Worse, the new Parliament could not agree on a Speaker, let alone a government - meaning that the previous government continues in caretaker mode.

Yesterday, on the sixth attempt, they finally managed to elect a Speaker. His first advice was to dissolve the House and call new elections. While this would be convenient for the caretaker government, it is grossly undemocratic. The people have chosen their representatives, and their decision should be respected. As for the MPs, they just have to lump it and make the best of it that they can.

It does expose a flaw in the Nauruan constitution, though: an even number of MPs enables deadlock. The caretaker government has suggested adding an extra MP to ensure that this is less likely to happen again. That sounds like a very good idea, and one New Zealand should look at as well.