Final election result … before disputes

The parliamentary vote counting finished just after lunch today. So that’s 4.3 x 15 hour counting days or 65 hours of counting. The result seemed known about Tuesday once trends had been set.

The key outcomes are :

  • Fretilin had the most votes with 29.0%, followed by CNRT with 24.1%
  • Both ASDT/PSD and PD seemed to lose votes when compared to the presidential elections
  • However, about 9% of the vote went to minor parties who failed to meet the 3% threshold and hence those votes basically are totally wasted
  • It is assumed that the above 9% of votes has all come from the non-Fretilin parties while Fretilin has pretty much held their supporter base

The seat allocation is expected to be :

Party No. of Seats
PD 8

Presumably a coalition needs to be formed with a minimum of 33 seats of the total 65 seats. It would be a huge surprise for a lot of people if Fretilin could obtain such a coalition arrangement. Most people assume a CNRT-ASDT/PSD-PD coalition.

Vote counting progress

The latest figures from CNE (the electoral authority) show that over 40% of the vote has now been counted.

With the Dili vote not starting until mid-morning on Tuesday, the figures had been a bit distorted with an early strong showing from the strong Fretilin areas in the east. But as the strong CNRT vote in Dili came on-stream, the Fretilin vote dropped to a more predictable level.

Both CNRT and Fretilin have done well in the areas you would expect with Fretilin doing quite well in Oecussi where most other parties did not campaign anywhere near as hard. I don’t know how they did it but the Oecussi vote was completed well before the end of Tuesday. Several of the other districts will still be battling to finish by Friday. Dili counting may yet go into the weekend.

Even though there are days to go before counting is complete, the international observer groups are falling all over themselves to release press statements on how well the voting process (mostly voting day itself and the pre-election campaigning) was conducted. Look up your thesaurus under gush.

Elections – not the Rupert Murdoch way

If anyone ever thought there would be a frenzied evening of vote counting culminating in the result around 10pm followed by the acceptance/concession speech by the winners and losers, it aint gonna happen here.

The local media play a pretty minor role in the collection, aggregation and dissemination of election results and the electoral authority don’t exactly make it easy either.

It looks like counting will take 3 to 5 days.  About 10% of votes have been counted by Sunday evening.  Dili vote counting has not even started yet.

Why, you ask.  Its all to do with the voting system.  The new voting rules put in place for these elections almost makes it mandatory to have all ballot boxes received in district counting centres before counting can start.  And there is a huge rigmarole associated with removing ballot papers from boxes, unfolding them (they are probably folded about 6 times so they can fit into the ballot box slot), grouping them into lots of 50 and randomising them.  And this happens before you even start counting.

Rupert would be most annoyed by the lack of ratings potential.

Parliamentary voting day

I understand that voting day has gone fairly well and the UN aim of a boring day has been met.  I don’t think there have been any incidents that might affect the final result, although there have been a couple of rules broken.

I had to laugh when I heard the leader of a certain (minor) party turned up at a polling place with his supporters waving party flags.  The reports suggested many members of the group were drunk and they were certainly breaking rules re. display of party materials within the confines of the polling place.  I believe drunkenness is also breaking the rules.

I believe this guy has a good chance of getting a seat.

Yesterday, I heard that bad weather in Covalima has led to about 7 bridges being washed out which has messed up a fair bit of logistics planning.  Access to some sites is now not possible by road so the UN and ISF choppers are/will work overtime to plug the gaps.

Counting starts at 7am Sunday morning in the 13 district administration centres and is expected to take 2 to 4 days with counting occuring between 7am and 10pm each day.

Rally #2

My 2nd and last parliamentary rally was the Fretilin rally held in the national stadium this afternoon. I could make some direct comparisons with the CNRT rally which I attended at the same location yesterday.

Memories play strange tricks sometimes but my gut feel was that CNRT had 10% more people yesterday. The guts also said the average Fretilin rallier was a shade younger.

Organisationally, the Fretilin rally was better run and they managed to get Mari Alkatiri on stage well before my patience ran thin. He was on at 2:30pm and talked his way through for about 70 minutes. There is no doubt he spent considerable time “boring it up” * Xanana and CNRT. Me thinks he will not be a complacent bystander if he becomes a member of the opposition.

The streets were nowhere near as volatile as they were during the presidential election campaign, even though I heard of an incident down at “Pig Bridge” sometime today.

* “boring it up” = slang for saying provocative and antagonistic things about someone

TV election coverage

It is pretty rare for me to watch the local TVTL television broadcasts. For one, reception is pretty bad through our rabbit ears but usually, it is all fairly turgid stuff.

But the word was that they would be doing a big coverage of the elections last night. Now that we are in the last days, it was interesting to see just how they handled it.

Although I didn’t do a count, it looked like they gave all 14 parties a 2 minute slot. All of it was roaming cameras at political rallies and meetings with the party leaders given the opportunity to state their case. Not that I understood what they were saying through the hiss (refer rabbit ears above), it seemed a pretty fair and reasonable coverage for all of the parties.

It may not have been CNN but it seemed to pass the equity test.

A day at the rally

I finally got to go to a parliamentary election rally yesterday. Firstly, I dropped in to the scheduled PD (Democratic Party) rally at Democracy Field. No-one there except a contingent of UN police waiting for a rally to happen. It didn’t look like anything was going to happen so I gave up and had a coffee at Cafe Brasil.

Cruised up the road for the CNRT rally at the stadium. This one had the numbers alright and eventually managed several thousand. They had terrible trouble with their sound system and I reached my limit as far as how many times I wanted to hear anyone say the word “testing” over the microphones.

Eventually Xanana arrived with Kirsty and located himself up in the stand. A bit later, President Ramos-Horta arrived to receive his CNRT cap and t-shirt. These things are pretty slow and after about an hour and a half, my patience departed and I left before Xanana and the President made their way to the bandstand erected in the middle of the football field, from where they both gave speeches.

I saw no inkling of violence either in the stadium or in the streets outside where many CNRT trucks full of people had been cruising about town.

Anecdotally, it seems that CNRT will be one of the major forces in this election and it will be interesting to see just which parties lose voter share to them when compared to the presidential election results.

Bill posters will NOT be prosecuted

Bill, you are safe here.

I understand a couple of international groups have been providing guidance in the process of electioneering. How to stick election posters on every known surface … how to string up tiny flags on strings and hang them across as many roads as possible …

Nowhere is safe. I hope they provided guidance on the appropriate glue, otherwise the biggest post-election job creation scheme will be removal of election materials.

There is no doubt that there has been a bit of tampering with opponent’s advertising, as you tend to notice things like “yesterday, that light pole was party A, now it is party B”. I haven’t seen any defacing of candidate faces yet.

Perhaps the most amazing posters and banners are the CNRT ones. This week, I hope to take a few photos of the more incredible ones. They all seem to have photos of Xanana, but many have photos of incredibly modern things like 22nd century 20 storey apartment buildings, jet fighters and all those things that are not here now. To be honest, lets hope they are kidding about the multi-story condos and jet fighters. Club Med TL ? No thanks.

There is no doubt that Xanana is one of those icons that ought to be an advertiser’s dream in the same league as Michael Jordan. I hope we are not heading for Xanana toothpaste, Xanana beauty soap or Xanana BBQ accessories. I could handle “Xanana Export Pumpkins” but I draw the line at exporting bananas.

The election campaign

I still have not seen a proper parliamentary election rally but now have the campaign schedule which details where each party will be doing their stuff from 27 May right through to the end of the campaign on 27 June.

As per the presidential election, most of the action is out of Dili early in the campaign but tends to concentrate back here towards the end. However, I can now mark my card if I want a little bit of light outdoor entertainment.

Today, PMD will be in Vera Cruz and tomorrow, PUN will be in Laulara, then nothing until Fretilin do Metinaro on Sunday. Then Fretilin are concentrating the rest of their campaign in and around Dili.

Interestingly, CNRT are really hammering outside of Dili and only doing one rally here at the end. In fact, many of the others are much the same. There is no doubt that Fretilin will be concentrating on Dili very hard. In a single electorate vote, concentrating on the biggest population centre makes sense from a “bang for your campaign buck” point of view.

The parties in upcoming election contest

Courtesy of East Timor Studies, I came across this 26 page paper from Australia which summarises as simply as I can handle, the 14 parties contesting the upcoming parliamentary election – “Political Parties and Groupings of Timor-Leste”.

It is not going to tell you that much about why one should (if you could) vote for any of the parties, but it gives a short history and names important movers and shakers. I prepared a little table (below) where I doodled a bit and threw in some info. I was interested in when the parties started and also which ones seemed to be pushing a different language emphasis. (The language thing is not detailed in any way. It is just a summary of what this paper mentions on the subject. If not mentioned, nothing is put in the table.)

It was also the 1st time I looked at the current parliamentary distribution of seats. Based on round one of the presidential election, the distribution is expected to change significantly, with ASDT/PSD, PD and CNRT gaining seats at the expense of Fretilin. Who knows how much support the others have, particularly those parties established after 2002 who do not currently have parliamentary representation.

As you can see, the mnemonics (ie abbreviated name of party) make it all pretty confusing.

Party Started Current
Stated position on language Key Players
ASDT 1974 6 Tetun, Portuguese, English Xavier do Amaral
CNRT 2007   Xanana Gusmao, Agio Pereira, Dionisio Soares
Fretilin 1974 54 Tetun, Portuguese Francisco “LuOlu” Guterres, Mari Alkatiri, Estanislau da Silva
KOTA 1974 2 Tetun, Portuguese, Bahasa, English Manuel Tilman, Leao Pedro dos Reis Amaral
PD 2001 7 Tetun Mariano Sabino Lopes, Fernando “LaSama” de Araujo, Joao Boavida
PDC 2000 3   Antonio Ximenes, Rev Arlindo Marcal
PMD 2005   Ermenegildo “Kupa” Lopes, Lettu Purn, Melio de Jesus
PNT 1999 2 Tetun, Bahasa, English, Portuguese Dr. Abilio Araujo, Allanca Conceicao de Araujo
PPT 2000 1   Dr.Jacob Xavier
PR 2005 Tetun, Portuguese, English Joao Saldanha
PSD 2000 6 Tetun, Portuguese, English Mario Carrascalao, Zacarias Albano da Costa, Joao Goncalves
PST 1995? 6 Tetun, Portuguese Avelino Coelho da Silva, Nelson Correia
PUN 2006   Fernando Borges
UDT 1974 2 Portuguese Joao Carrascalao, Quiteria da Costa
Undertim 2005 Tetun, Portuguese, English, Bahasa Cornelio “L7” Gama, Cristiano da Costa

Addendum : The ALP web site is no longer hosting the PDF file mentioned above. It can now be found at :