Counting for the 2019 Solomon Islands National General Elections concluded late yesterday evening. All 50 seats has been filled, of that 13 are new MPs while 37 are incumbents.

That means 74% of those that won are incumbents, while 26% are new. While many campaigned under the banner of change, the message seems clear from the electorate - thank you but no thanks.

Writing for the Devpolicy Blog, Terrence Wood, a research fellow at the Australian National University’s (ANU) Development Policy Centre, says that in the past 50% of incumbents had lost their seats during elections.

“But in 2014, 74% of MPs won their seats back, probably because so-called constituency development funds (government money given to MPs) rose rapidly between 2010 and 2014, giving sitting members an electoral advantage,” Mr Wood writes.

Wood points out that constituency funds are high again in 2019, which would seem to bode well for sitting members.

Bode well it has, exactly 74% have again returned – and while data is not yet available most have won comfortably, some as high as 80% of the registered voters in their respective constituency.

One writer at one of the popular social media group sums it well, “those of us in town have very different views, we also do not depend entirely on the RCDF, the rural populace depend on it, and that is their way of saying thank you to MPs.”

Patronage? Maybe, but perhaps it is the big man system still at play.