25 Nov 2010

Voting steady in Tonga election

2:38 pm on 25 November 2010

Tongans are today going to the polls to elect a parliament, where for the first time most of the MPs will be ordinary citizens, who are elected by ordinary citizens.

The political changes mean there will be 17 parliamentarians elected by the general public with the nobility electing nine.

Richard Pamatatau reports from Nuku'alofa.

"There's been a steady stream of voters at the polling booth right across Tongatapu and especially those close to Nuku'alofa where the outer island voting centre is. It was very busy when it opened at 9am and there's a festive atmosphere there."

Richard Pamatatau says the election will mark a shift in political power, but without an obvious party system, the election of a prime minister and then the formation of cabinet will be a challenge.

He says the nobles are expected to vote as a bloc in the new parliament.

The first election results should be made public by about 8 o'clock tonight.