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King George Tupou V says he fully supports the growth of democracy in Tonga.
Excerpt from the ABC News website:
“I’ve always wanted to do this for the country,” the Tongan monarch said.
King Tupou says Tonga’s new political landscape will be slightly different to the majority of constitutional monarchies.
“Officially the sovereign’s powers [will] remain unchanged,” he said.
“The difference in future is that I shall not be able to exercise any of my powers at will, and that all the sovereign’s powers must be exercised solely on the advice of the prime minister, in most things, and in judicial matters the law lords will advise on the exercise of power.”
Following what are known as the 16/11 riots, it may appear the King is forced to accept democracy to prevent similar events. Perhaps the King is saving face by supporting an inevitable push for a democratic system.
Recent coverage within our mainstream media, of course, normalise the concept of democracy without question; surely if the people have less power the monarchical system cannot be good? Growing up within a democratic paradigm obsessed with the majority, I too naturally lean towards a democratic viewpoint. However, I do not wish, nor have the time to dive into the depths of this subject right now.
Where am I going with this? Well, I watched recent Tagata Pasifika coverage of the Tongan elections and was surprised to hear how some Tongan people felt the monarchy was a part of their identity as Tongans. I cannot remember his name, but I remember a pannelist on a Tongan election debate saying he welcomed a change, but did not want what he identified with as a Tongan to be taken away.
Fair. Although I cannot sympathise, I can empathise with holding onto the traditional cues of cultural identification…
Back to the King.
Quite frankly is he being forced to support a change that will diminish his official power in terms of governance in his Kingdom?
In an interview with Radio Australia King George says he didn’t feel any pressure “from below”, but felt more pressure from his “own class” to keep the monarchical system strongly in place. Wait, so the King wants democracy. With his plum-mouthed accent, which can sometimes come off as having a blase attitude towards monarchy matters, he announces that he would not have supported a move to diminish his power if he had been fully learned in a Tongan education system.
King George becomes the people’s hero by voicing his support to give more power to the People’s Representatives in Parliament. I am pleasantly surprised by his willingness to move towards a balanced change. Recent developments, apart from the odd dodgy court ruling, seem promising in that the Tongan monarchy identity remains intact while the people are allowed to exercise more power over who is well, in power.
In the radio interview the King continues to earn favour by quoting a phrase which literally means “every Tongan has a road to the Palace” which is cute, whether it will be translated into Tonga’s newly formed democratic Parliament is yet to be seen.
Right now, the people seem to want change – and the King agrees.
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