Party politics and government in Solomon Islands
|Collections||ANU Dept. of Pacific Affairs (DPA) formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program|
|Title:||Party politics and government in Solomon Islands|
|Publisher:||Canberra, ACT: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program, The Australian National University|
|Series/Report no.:||State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) discussion paper series: 1997/7|
The presence of political parties has often been viewed as an integral part of democracy, and in particular, the Westminster parliamentary system. Parties representing different opinions, policies and ideologies are perceived as necessary for the representation of different interest groups. Also, political parties provide voters the opportunity to select leaders from a number of alternatives. It was, therefore, assumed that in order for democracy to work successfully parties must exist. Consequently, the newly independent states of Africa, Asia and Oceania that emerged in the post-World War II period and subscribed to democracy all attempted to develop a political culture where parties become significant. This is despite the fact that in most of these countries, especially in Melanesia, most voters had not yet understood the concept of party politics. When Solomon Islands gained constitutional independence on 7 July, 1978 and adopted the Westminster system of government from Great Britain, it inherited along with it concepts such as party politics. Consequently, Solomon Islanders who took over leadership of the government were faced with the fact that, in parliament, for the purposes of forming a government they had to align themselves with groups called political parties. The idea that the main governing body is made up of a government and an opposition was relatively new to most Solomon Islanders. However, despite this, political parties have become important in Solomon Islands politics today. Parties (or the absence of strong cohesive parties) have had a profound impact on the process of governance. This paper discusses the emergence and development of political parties in contemporary Solomon Islands. It analyses how party politics influences the process of governance and the nature of politics. The discussions here are drawn largely from my experiences as a member of the Solomon Islands parliament for eight years.
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