Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

Tonga’s premature royal dissolution

Prime Minister of Tonga Samiuela Akilisi Pohiva addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 24, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz).

Author: Jon Fraenkel, Victoria University of Wellington

In a perfunctory decree on 25 August, Tonga’s King George Tupou VI exercised his constitutional right to dissolve his country’s parliament. He gave no reason, but acknowledged having received the advice of the speaker, Lord Tu’ivakano. Yet this was no ordinary dissolution to bring a peaceful end to the life of a parliament. The purpose, as Tu’ivakano expanded, was to terminate a government that had allegedly ‘trespassed on the King’s powers’.

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