Commoner Akilisi Pohiva's remarkable victory in Tonga's elections

Mr Pohiva's party won 14 of the 17 seats.
Mr Pohiva's party won 14 of the 17 seats. Photo credit: Getty

In what's being described as a remarkable and resounding victory, commoner Akilisi Pohiva's Democratic Party has won the majority of seats in Tonga's elections.

Mr Pohiva's party won 14 of the 17 seats and he is likely to be reinstalled as the Kingdom's Prime Minister.

The election was held a year early, after King George Tupou VI took the unprecedented step to intervene and dissolve Parliament, effectively ending Mr Pohiva's reign.

The King made the move after receiving a series of complaints from Parliament's speaker, one of which claimed that Mr Pohiva was trying to strip away power from the Monarchy.

Massey University's Pasifika director, associate professor Malakai Koloamatangi, says it appears no-one took much notice of the allegations.

"To win 14 of the 17 seats is remarkable and obviously he had great success. I think what the public has said is that they don't necessarily believe or care about the charges against Pohiva."

As the new government is formed, Mr Koloamatangi says Mr Pohiva must ensure there's greater unity among politicians to avoid constant infighting and disagreement.

"The question of whether he puts together a credible [government] and performs as Prime Minister is another question. There is opportunity for Pohiva to smooth things over."

Mr Koloamatangi believes the win for Mr Pohiva is part of a gradual shift in Tonga that has seen power being handed to the people.

"I think what Pohiva has tried to do over the years is give more power to the people. I don't think there's anything sinister in that. I see it as a continued evolution of power. It's part of the King becoming more ceremonial."

Some 59,000 people registered to vote in the general election. As well as the 17 People's Representatives seats, nine Nobles will also take positions in parliament.