Note to candidates: Avoid unwinnable seats
23 May 2022
| Academia Nomad
WAIGANI - I once listened to a talk on a case study drawn from the Oro provincial election of 2017.
It dealt particularly with the challenges women face in elections.
Being from Oro, I listened with interest but was disappointed when I heard the findings, which were not a good reflection of Oro politics.
The study suggested that the female candidate, Jean Parkop, wife of Governor Powes Parkop, came second lost because she was a woman.
This could not be further from the truth.
Jean Parkop lost because she contested a seat whose incumbent, Governor Gary Juffa, was so popular it was impossible for any candidate to win against him.
She did not lose because she was woman. Juffa could have won the National Capital District seat if wanted to contest it.
This story will put the popular Gary Juffa of Oro Province into context.
The day after nominations opened in Oro Province, my cousin drove into town.
He saw the posters of the Oro candidates on public walls and in the windows of shops in town.
But Gary Juffa’s poster was not among them.
Curious, my cousin asked bystanders why Gary Juffa posters were nowhere to be seen.
One bystander who lived in town said:
“As soon as Juffa’s posters went up, youths, kids, parents, street guys, mothers, fathers, ripped them off and took them home.
“They wanted to put them on their houses, shops and trucks.”
Everyone wanted a bit of Gary Juffa.
People who never met Juffa personally wanted to associate themselves with him.
One of the things you must do if you have ambitions to contest parliamentary seats in Papua New Guinea is to be realistic about your chances of winning – there’s also a chance that the incumbent may lose.
But, maybe, if the incumbent is too popular, you probably just shouldn’t contest the seat.
You would find it very difficult to win a seat held by Allan Bird, Tom Lino, Justin Tkatchenko, Peter O’Neill, James Marape, Richard Maru or perhaps John Rosso , even though some of these leaders are probably corrupt and should be replaced.
Unfortunately the majority of voters in their electorates have different criteria for who they think deserves their votes. And these voters are the people who decide who becomes their member of parliament.
If you’re intending to be a politician, then follow politics closely through the five year term. Do your homework. Do your groundwork. Always be realistic about your chances of winning. And, in general, avoid unwinnable seats.
This goes for both male and female candidates, but moreso for women. They have a harder job.
When elections are over, we argue about why women didn’t win - not why we didn’t elect women.
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