23 Nov 2010

Tonga poll points to success for liberal candidates

3:35 pm on 23 November 2010

Candidates who pushed for political change in Tonga may win half of the seats allocated to ordinary voters in an election this week, a poll indicates.

The Tongan Media Council poll of 2400 people was conducted on the main island last week and has a margin of error of plus or minus 6%.

Changes in the electoral system mean that for the first time ordinary people will vote in the majority of MPs on Thursday.

Long-time campaigners for political change Akilisi Pohiva, Clive Edwards and Isileli Pulu are well ahead of rivals, while their associates also lead in their electorates.

However, a member of the Tonga Media Council, Kalafi Moala, says it is unlikely they will hold the balance of power.

Mr Moala says some conservative and well-known former government senior staff may also win seats.