Politics of Tonga

Politics of Tonga takes place in a framework of a constitutional monarchy, whereby the King is the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Tonga's Prime Minister is currently appointed by the King from among the members of Parliament after having won the support of a majority of its members. Executive power is vested in the Cabinet of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in the King in Parliament, and judicial power is vested in the supreme court.

This article is part of a series on the
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This article has not yet been updated to reflect the democratic reforms implemented in 2010.

Tonga joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970, and the United Nations in 1999. While exposed to colonial forces, Tonga has never lost indigenous governance, a fact that makes Tonga unique in the Pacific and boosts confidence in the monarchical system. The British High Commission in Tonga closed in March 2006.

Tonga's current king, Tupou VI, traces his line directly back through six generations of monarchs. The previous king, George Tupou V, born in 1946, continued to have ultimate control of the government until July 2008. At that point, concerns over financial irregularities and calls for democracy led to his relinquishing most of his day-to-day powers over the government.[1]


Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
King Tupou VI 18 March 2012
Prime Minister Pōhiva Tuʻiʻonetoa Independent 27 September 2019

Its executive includes the prime minister and the cabinet, which becomes the Privy Council when presided over by the monarch. In intervals between legislative sessions, the Privy Council makes ordinances, which become law if confirmed by the legislature. The monarch is hereditary, the prime minister and deputy prime minister are appointed for life by the monarch, the Cabinet is appointed by the monarch.


The Legislative Assembly is composed of representatives of the Nobles and representatives of the people. This composition is established by Article 59 of the Constitution as amended by the " Constitution of Tonga amendment Act 2010 "[2] Article 51 of the same Act allows the PM to nominate and the King to appoint up to 4 extra cabinet members from outside the Assembly.

The current composition is:

  • 9 Nobles
  • 17 people's Reps

Political parties and elections

The electoral system was changed in April 2010, with 17 of 26 representatives now directly elected.[3]

2010 General election

 Summary of the 25 November 2010 Tongan Legislative Assembly election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands 10,953 28.49 12
Independents 25,873 67.30 5
People's Democratic Party 934 2.43 0
Sustainable Nation-Building Party 519 1.35 0
Tongan Democratic Labor Party 168 0.44 0
Noble representatives 54 9
Total 38,447 100.00 26
Source: Matangi Tonga

Past elections


Below is a list of recent or upcoming by-elections:

Election Date Reason Winner
2011 Tongatapu 9 by-election 15 September 2011 Death of Kaveinga Fa’anunu Falisi Tupou (DPFI)
2016 Vavaʻu 16 by-election 14 July 2016 ‘Etuate Lavulavu's election voided (bribery and campaign overspending) ‘Akosita Lavulavu


Tonga's court system consists of the Court of Appeal (Privy Council), the Supreme Court, the Magistrates' Court, and the Land Court. Judges are appointed by the monarch.

The judiciary is headed by a Chief Justice. The current Chief Justice is Michael Dishington Scott.

Administrative divisions

Tonga is divided in three island groups; Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u. The only form of local government is through town and district officials who have been popularly elected since 1965. The town official represents the central government in the villages, the district official has authority over a group of villages.

See also


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