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Introducing the awesome MP database

The MP database and its companion Elections database are essential tools for anyone interested in Papua New Guinea. A laudable joint project of the Australian National University and the University of PNG

| Devpolicy Blog | Edited

CANBERRA - It’s not easy keeping track of Papua New Guinea’s members of parliament.

They might change from one party to another, or from government to the opposition. To help make it easier, we’ve created the PNG MP Database, which you can link to here.

A few years ago, we created the PNG Elections Database, which tells you who competed in every seat in almost every election back to independence, and how they fared.

Now, to complement that, we have the PNG MP Database, which provides information on what MPs have done once elected.

We’ve only done this for the Tenth Parliament (2017–2022), but we plan to keep it going through the life of the next parliament and beyond.

For the Tenth Parliament, at six critical points of time we captured which parties MPs belonged to, whether they supported government or the opposition and the time they have served in parliament.

These critical points were:

the July 2017 elections

the formation of the O’Neill government (August 2017)

the O’Neill overthrow and his replacement by Marape (May 2019)

the vote of no confidence on Marape (December 2020)

just after the vote of no confidence, which Marape narrowly survived (February 2021)

this month (February 2022), as PNG politics warms up for the mid-year election

There’s a lot of fascinating information in the database, including:

111 MPs were elected at the 2017 general election. There are now 107 - sadly six died, four joined since, one resigned, one was disqualified

55% of members lost their seat at the last election, but 45% of MPs are in their first term because about 10 MPs returned to parliament in 2017 after being out for at least one term

32% of MPs are in their second term, 9% are in their third term, 10% are in their fourth term and 3% have served five terms or more

there are as many fourth term as third term MPs

You can link here to download a discussion paper by Thomas Wangi and Terence Wood on MP’s terms and related issues.

There were 21 political parties (not counting independents) represented in Tenth Parliament when it was elected in 2017. This rose to 28 parties at one point and there are currently 25.

Forty MPs have stayed in the same party (or continued as an independent) throughout their stay in parliament.

Another 48 have moved parties once, 24 twice, and four have changed three times.

Sixteen independents won election, but there are only five now. (We counted moving from being an independent to joining a party as moving parties.)

PANGU, the party of prime minister James Marape, has been the big winner of the Tenth Parliament.

Only nine PANGU party members were elected, but the party now has 34. By contrast, the membership of former PM Peter O’Neill’s’ party, People’s National Congress (PNC), has fallen from 29 to 12 MPs.

Only three parties have 10 members or more: PANGU 34; PNC 12; and the new United Labour Party with 10. National Alliance had 15 at the start of the parliament, but is now down to nine.

As you can see, party size is not static over the life of the parliament.

This graph shows the two biggest parties and also the number of independents – nearly all of whom joined a party immediately after the elections.

HowesDia1Prime Minister Marape has largely, but not fully, recovered from the vote of no confidence at the end of December 2020.

At one point, it looked like Marape only had minority support, but by the time of the vote he had recovered significant numbers and since then has continued to regain support.

The government now numbers 81 members, a convincing majority, but below the 88 who supported O’Neill when he became PM in 2017 and the 94 who originally supported the election of Marape.


We can go further to categorise MPs based on their position in relation to government. The 81 current government supporters can be divided into four groups:

governmentalists – those who have been in the government camp throughout this term of parliament – the largest group, 37

swinging – those who supported Marape, then tried to overthrow him, but have since gone back to government, comprise the second largest group, 25

loyal Marape supporters – those who moved to government when Marape became PM and were loyal during the vote of no confidence – 12

others – some recently elected MPs and a few others – seven

The 25 members of the opposition can be divided into three groups:

former Marape supporters – those who supported Marape until the vote of no confidence and have been in opposition since - 13

O’Neill supporters – those who supported O’Neill in government and went with him to opposition – nine

oppositionists – in opposition throughout the term of this parliament – three

This categorisation confirms that, in PNG politics, there is only a minority rusted on to one side or the other.

Most MPs want to be in government. The ‘governmentalist’ and ‘swinging’ MPs make up 57% of all MPs.

Hence the importance, when trying to form a government, of convincing other MPs that you have the numbers.


The PNG MP Database was created by Stephen Howes, Thomas Wangi, Michael Kabuni, Maholopa Laveil, Geejay Milli and Terence Wood.

We are independent and non-partisan and we hope our work will be useful for the general public, journalists and researchers.

Please provide us with your feedback so that we can continue to improve the PNG MP Database.

The ANU–UPNG PNG MP Database is not official. For official information on MPs, visit the PNG Parliament website or the IPPCC website.

We do the best we can to be accurate, drawing on these databases as well as media reports, and our website lets you track changes over time, keeps you informed of the level of governmental support, and it is up to date.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lindsay F Bond

Keith, from ABC Australia today on what constitutes minimum membership for a political party to be registered:

"The Australian Electoral Commission review is a legal requirement due to a law that says a party must either have a sitting federal politician or be able to prove it has 1,500 paid-up members to remain registered federally."


Lindsay F Bond

As to 'official', PNG MP Database is because otherwise too little is.
And on rounding up other logs...

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