Parliamentary election in plain english

In the first round of the presidential elections, we had candidates from 8 parties. For the parliamentary elections on 30 June, we have 14 parties contesting 65 parliamentary seats. The country is treated as one single electorate and a modified version of the d’Hondt voting system is used to allocate seats based purely on the total number of votes received by the party.

Each party puts forward a list of candidates and if the party wins 10 seats, then the top 10 candidates in the party’s list will get a seat in parliament.

There are 8 extra parties in the parliamentary election (with ASDT and PSD joining as a single entity and CNRT not really existing until recently). For their own reasons, these parties did not contest the presidential election and I will assume those parties have all been around for a while, except the newly formed CNRT party.

If you use the breakdown of votes from the 1st round presidential election, you come up with the majority of the votes (and hence seats) going to Fretilin, ASDT-PSD, PD and to wherever Ramos-Horta’s votes go. As president, Ramos-Horta probably should not indicate where his supporters should vote but it is assumed that a large proportion will vote CNRT given that Xanana endorsed Ramos-Horta as president.

In any case, no one group is likely to have a majority in parliament. So coalitions must be formed to establish a government. The presidential results seemed to indicate that given 2 choices, the vast majority of non-Fretilin supporters will not choose Fretilin. The only smaller party that clearly backed Fretilin for the second round presidential election was Manuel Tilman’s Kota party.

The ASDT and PSD parties indicated their association a while back and have formalised their coalition before the election. I read somewhere that the likely top positions in parliament might be Xanana Gusmao as president of the parliament (LuOlu’s current job), Mario Carrascalao from ASDT-PSD as Prime Minister and Xavier Amaral from ASDT-PSD as Deputy Prime Minister. That may still be speculation but that would indicate a coalition of CNRT and ASDT-PSD with the newer CNRT party giving the nod to wiser heads. Other parties will have their own ideas on what will come out of the electoral mincer.

I imagine a lot of work is being done on coalition building at the moment but we may not know much about it until after the election. PD appear to have slagged off Xanana which suggests PD may go it alone rather than form a coalition. But what happens this week may mean nothing next week.

But don’t forget the biggest de-facto coalition of all – the UN and whoever sits in government. Time for an aspirin and a good lie down.

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