DP101 What has limited preferential voting changed in Papua New Guinea?

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 101

By Terence Wood, Maholopa Laveil and Michael Kabuni

May 2022

Limited preferential voting (LPV) replaced first past the post in the wake of the 2002 general elections in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The change was the source of high hopes of better electoral quality and political governance, particularly among policymakers, civil society and the international community. Among academic observers, the shift brought debate, with proponents and opponents disagreeing about whether something as simple as a change in electoral rules could overcome serious political problems. Twenty years on and three LPV general elections later, we take the opportunity to examine LPV’s impact on electoral processes and outcomes, as well as governance more generally, in PNG. We find no evidence of large changes — either positive or negative — stemming from the shift in electoral systems. However, we do find some evidence of smaller benefits and costs, as well as tantalising hints of possible future potential. LPV has failed to deliver as was hoped, yet it has brought some change, and there remains a case for keeping the system in PNG.

Wood, T., Laveil, M. & Kabuni, M. 2022, ‘What has limited preferential voting changed in Papua New Guinea?’, Discussion Paper No. 101, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra.

Lydia Papandrea

Lydia is the Managing Editor of Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies and Co-editor of the DevPolicy Blog.