Timor-Leste’s Revolving Door Parliament
Western Melanesian parliaments2 are routinely characterised as revolving door, with roughly half (and sometimes more) of the sitting members losing their seats at each election, so that at any one time a large proportion of members are first-termers. This phenomenon is generally attributed to weak political party organisation, the contest between large numbers of candidates for local constituencies, electoral systems that deliver local victories with a minority of votes, and unachievable compacts between constituents and elected members for direct benefits in return for electoral support (Fraenkel 2005; Morgan 2005; Woods 2014). These factors are not at work in Timor-Leste, yet the turnover of members after each election is even higher: 79.5 per cent in 2007 and 61.5 per cent in 2012. The analysis developed in this In Brief identifies several contributory factors, and reflects on the implications of the high turnover for parliamentary effectiveness.
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