Worst Election Ever in PNG due to Mismanagement and Cash Crisis

July 4, 2002 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Worst Election Ever in PNG due to Mismanagement and Cash Crisis
Papua New Guinea's two-week polling period has been extended one week in some areas due to a near complete breakdown of voting infrastructure: corrupt common rolls in some areas, violence in others, and no ballots or cash to pay for election services in still others. Results as they come in are available online. What went wrong? Outright bribery, sometimes. Its a fight over who will control massive natural resources: citizens or international conglomerates. The privatising PM may be heading for a fall, despite his mishandling of election.
posted by rschram (2 comments total)
A good friend of mine is currently working as an anthropologist in Baimuru Province, PNG. This is REALLY remote PNG.

He's given me quite a run down on the local electoral process, as well as the complete poverty of the people, and the corporations trying to make good on local natural resources. It sounds like a recipe for complete corruption to me. Esp. when for many of these people "privatization" means logging companies dragging all the resouces away and giving you nothing in return, unless you're the local chief, in which case you get bribes.

In fact, the local resident who is my friend's primary contact there is running for office. This man's rival accused him and his anthropologist of being involved in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs to submarines offshore controlled by the American Mafia. Crazy as it sounds, this is apparently a popular conspiracy theory there. My friend had to travel to the rival's village with a brute squad to demand an apology.

I'll paste a relevant excerpt from one of his emails to me last time he was in australia:
Since coming back and with the onset of ‘gavana dori’ (government games) as
the elections are called, I have noticed that people are becoming a lot more
demanding of me ­ particularly materially. While I understand and
appreciate the need to reciprocate people’s hospitality, there is a limit to
which I can do this financially. My sense is this reaction or feeling is
part of the general feelings of lack and need that the elections invoke.
Campaigning here frequently involves the candidates given money to votes,
motors, dinghies, etc ­ which then make up for what they don’t do when
elected. The elections have definitely put a new spin on everything.

(his name josh bell, I expect he'll write some very interesting research when he finishes up)
posted by malphigian at 9:08 PM on July 4, 2002

Traditionally the big man of the village in PNG has been primarily responsible for providing for others with much less emphasis on the leadership aspect found in other democracies.

This distinction I think almost lends itself to more corruption than might be found elsewhere.
posted by kofisaffu at 2:46 PM on July 8, 2002

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