7 Sep 2017

Tonga election schedule could favour women

6:50 am on 7 September 2017

A women's rights advocate in Tonga says the early elections give new candidates, including women, a more even playing field to contest the vote.

Last month parliament was dissolved by royal decree and early elections were called, a year ahead of schedule.

The elections are due to be held by November the 16th.

The Civil Society Forum said the short lead-in time could hamper women candidates who need more encouragement and preparation because of cultural restrictions.

But 'Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki said it could actually work in their favour.

"Twelve months before the next elections, we start seeing the male candidates, who are currently in parliament, using their constituency development funds to do a whole lot of development projects around their villages, around their constituencies so that it raises their profile and their popularity amongst the voters. That's all gone now," she said.

'Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki

'Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki Photo: RNZI/Koro Vaka'uta