Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has moved a Motion in Parliament to consider the White Paper on the proposed new election system for Solomon Islands.
Apart from addressing some of the shortfalls in the current first past the post system, Prime Minister Sogavare says that one of the key purposes of this second White Paper is to address the issue of Women in Parliament.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the Electoral Reform Taskforce, through feedback from its various public consultations, recommends that should a Temporary Special Measure (TSM) policy be implemented, it would have to be implemented on the following basis:
- There shall be 10 additional seats; the constituency for each of the 10 additional seats shall be the whole of the province (9) and Honiara City.
- The figure 10 of additional seats was considered a politically convenient number given that it is a win-win for all provinces as each of them and Honiara City will have one additional seat; the selection of women who will contest these TSM seats is explained in section 4.2 and Attachment II of the White Paper.
- The criterion to be used in selecting the women who has won the Province/Honiara City TSM seat is the Highest Ratio of ‘votes won to votes cast’ of women who contest elections in all constituencies in a province or Honiara City. This means that there is no separate election for TSM seats. There will be one General Election only for the existing 50 seats and the 10 additional TSM seats for women; and
Since the TSM is temporary, it is also recommended that the TSM be taken off or cancelled after 5 General Elections, beginning on the General Election that the TSM policy is to be introduced. This length of time is considered sufficient for women to prove themselves as worthy of the roles of members of Parliament expected by the people.
The Prime Minister said the TSM policy for women has been an on-going issue that has been brought to the attention of the Government.
He said, and as argued in the White Paper, one of the reasons for the failure to get women elected into Parliament is "partly the deficiency in our democratic system that has resulted in only three women elected into Parliament since independence."
Prime Minister Sogavare said it was against this backdrop that the TSM policy has been developed by the Electoral Reform Taskforce. The Prime Minister says that the TSM policy has received overwhelming support so far during the consultations by the Electoral Reform Taskforce.