The rise of the Minimalist Party
The seven independent MPs voted into parliament in Tonga's recent general election have no common philosophy, no common policies, no manifesto, and no common name: that hasn't stopped them, though, from turning themselves into a de facto political party and conducting negotiations first with the Democratic Party of 'Akilisi Pohiva and then with the nobles who are allotted nine crucial seats in parliament by Tonga's revised constitution.
Sadly, the post that I wrote in 2010 about Tonga's previous general election and its aftermath seems to describe many of the events of the last week. For the second election running, the Democratic Party has won a clear majority of the seats in Tonga's parliament elected by universal suffrage; once again, though, Pohiva and co look like being denied the right to form a government.
Last June, when a festival of political discussion was held in Nuku'alofa, I argued that Tongan democracy should interest us all. I wish it interested the kingdom's nobles and independent MPs.
For updates and waspish commentary on the negotiations in Nuku'alofa, follow 'Atalanga-based scholar Teena Pulu Brown's twitter feed. [Posted by Scott Hamilton]