Tonga. In February, the Prime Minister since 2014, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, survived a vote of no confidence in Parliament. According to Countryaah.com, distrust was aroused by seven of the nine noblemen who have reserved seats in the Legislative Assembly as well as three other members. They accused the Prime Minister of nepotism, among other things, after hiring his son as his personal assistant. 14 of the parliamentarians voted against the declaration of disbelief while it was supported by ten, which meant that Pohiva could remain. Finance Minister ‘Aisake Eke chose to abstain and in early March resigned from his post. In connection with this, Prime Minister Pohiva carried out a government reform and took in his son-in-law, MP Mateni Tapueluelu, as new police minister.
Parliamentary elections would not really have been held until 2018, but in August King Tupou VI dissolved parliament and announced new elections. According to Speaker Lord Tu’ivakano, who consulted with the king before his decision, Pohiva and his government had exceeded their powers and had breached the constitution and the rule of law. Pohiva’s political opponents also defended the decision to dissolve Parliament with claims that the government had a reputation for being incompetent and that Parliament was paralyzed by internal strife. Others saw the king’s decision as a threat to the country’s young and fragile democracy.
In the November elections, Pohiva and his Friendship Islands Democratic Party (DPFI) consolidated their power. The party captured 14 of the 17 seats elected in direct elections. The other three places went to independent candidates. In December, Parliament re-elected Pohiva as prime minister by 14 votes to twelve. Despite the democratic reforms and constitutional changes implemented in the former absolute monarchy, the king and nobility still have great influence in the country; nine of the total 26 seats in the legislative assembly are reserved for the noble families.