2019 Solomon Islands National General Elections: Observation Report

Colin Wiltshire, James Batley, Joanne Ridolfi, Athena Rogers

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    National general elections were held in Solomon Islands on 3 April 2019. These were the 10th general elections since independence in 1978, and the first since the mid-2017 departure of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). There are inherent challenges to successful election delivery in Solomon Islands due to its cultural and geographic diversity and population that is scattered across urban, rural and remote locations. Despite these constraints, national elections have generally been peaceful and credible in post-conflict Solomon Islands and the 2019 election continued upon this trend. The Office of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) conducted elections following the passage of a new Electoral Act in 2018. The main reforms and regulations associated with the new Act1 that came into effect for the 2019 election were: changed procedures around the registration of voters and the process of counting votes; changes to the candidate nomination process and increases to campaign budgets; more severe penalties for electoral offences; and the imposition of a 24-hour campaign blackout immediately prior to election day. The SIEC was tasked with implementing these new provisions in a short amount of time ahead of the 2019 election. They also faced substantial administrative challenges, which included delays with receiving allocated budgets and understaffing at head office. At the same time, the election attracted widespread media coverage on the movement of voters between constituencies and overall increases in the voter roll. It is within this context that the Australian National University (ANU) conducted observational research and analysis for the 2019 election. The ANU, through the Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA), conducted a large-scale observation of the election comprising 90 observers, 77 of whom were Solomon Islanders. The observation covered almost a third of the country (15 of Solomon Islands’ 50 national constituencies). Fieldwork was carried out from 23 March to 10 April 2019 in order to comprehensively cover the pre-polling, polling and post-polling periods.2 The research comprised direct election observations and citizen surveys. In total, almost 5000 citizens were interviewed either before or after the election, and nearly 600 observation reports were completed. In terms of the breath and scope of the data collected, this study represents one of the largest and most comprehensive research exercises to have been undertaken in Solomon Islands.
    Original languageEnglish
    Commissioning bodyDepartment of Pacific Affairs, Australian National University
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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