25 Nov 2010

Voting in Tonga to start this morning

7:56 am on 25 November 2010

Tongans go to the polls today to choose the majority of their MPs for the first time.

The election is the culmination of years of pressure for change in a system dominated by the monarchy, but made possible by King George Tupou the 5th divesting himself of some of his powers.

Don Wiseman has details about the election process.

"Voting for the 17 single member seats - 10 on the main island Tongatapu, three on Vava'u, two on Ha'apai, and one each on Eua and the Niuas, begins at nine and will conclude at four. The country's 33 noble families will choose nine from their ranks to make up the initial 26 member legislature. That vote is from 10am to noon. The chief electoral officer, Pita Vuki, says results will be phoned or faxed to the commission and the first results should ready to be made public by about 8pm tonight. The new government, whatever its shape, is to take power within six weeks after the poll and Mr Vuki says it's possible this could happen during the Christmas break."