Making and Changing Governments in Pacific Parliamentary Systems

In 2021, the Constitution Transformation Network partnered with the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Office to build knowledge and share experiences on key issues of constitutional governance in the Pacific Region.

A pressing issue facing parliaments in the Pacific, and across the world, is how to promote the stable, effective and accountable change in government. This project outlined principles and practices that might be tailored to the context of Pacific island countries with parliamentary systems to address issues such as:

  • What happens if a government does not have a clear majority in the parliament after an election?
  • What happens if a government loses its majority before the end of the parliamentary term?
  • What happens when the outcome of an election is unclear or contested, or where the rules to be applied are disputed?
  • Who are the key actors and how can they be supported in their role to ensure effective and accountable formation and change of government?

In November 2021, the Constitution Transformation Network and the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Office led two webinars for parliamentarians, political leaders, government officials and civil society across the Pacific region. The first webinar explored the principles that govern the change of government, the role of key actors, and ways to manage close election results through coalition and minority government. The second webinar considered ways to maintain stable and accountable government for the life of the parliamentary term, including legal reforms to control no-confidence votes and party-hopping, as well as how the broader culture and roles of parliamentarians and other key actors can be strengthened to promote stability. CTN was subsequently invited by the UNDP to facilitate a separate webinar on forming and managing government for more than 30 members of the Fiji Parliament.

A Practical Guide on Making and Changing Government in Pacific Parliamentary Systems will soon be published by the UNDP, which sets out in accessible format the principles of parliamentary government and practical ways in which these principles can be supported in the legal rules, institutional practices and the conduct of key actors.

The Practical Guide will be shared here it is published by the UNDP Pacific Office.