22 May 2018

East Timor 2018 Elections: Fretilin Falls, Xanana Rises

East Timor Law & Justice Bulletin Frtilin Xanana Elections 2018
Xanana Gusmao - Victorious 2018 Legislative Election
First published on LinkedIn 15 May 2018 It is worth noting that the Legislative election was conducted on Saturday, 12 May 2018 and that it will most likely result in the fall of the minority government headed by Fretilin with Mari Alkatiri bringing the nation to the edge of implosion and the installation of a coalition lead by Gusmao's CNRT.

Latest reports are that Xanana's coaltion has garnered just over 49.59% which should result in 34 seats in the 65 seat Parliament while Fretilin received only 34.18% after 99% count.

The election, the fall of the Fretilin government (again, as it did in the 2006 Crisis) and the resumption of majority rule under the leadership of Xanana Gusmao is the only possible way to resolve the political and constitutional crisis that again hit the country last year and into this year. This was caused by a ridiculous article in the constitution that the most voted party may form government even it if does not have a majority. This lead to the suspension of parliamentary democracy in East Timor and a complete disregard for fundamental democratic ideas. One scholar even queried whether President Lu Olo acted constitutionally throughout the whole disaster.

There were at the peak of the crisis last year, reports of population movement from the capital back to the Districts. Both the East Timor National Police and the East Timor Defence Forces threatened the population as tensions rose. The Catholic Church jumped into bed with the Alkatiri minority government as well and would have preached the appropriate political message at the mass on Sundays.

At least the election was relatively violence free although hidden dyadic relationships and kin and social organisation mean for unreported trouble in the districts. In as far as one can, congratulations are due to the people and the leaders who did not incite violence and "dance on the streets" as Alatiri warned Fretilin would do if he didn't get his way.

While the political processes appear to have organised into a democratic resolution of the potentially dangerous problem, the greater lesson to be learnt here is Article 106 of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor that permits minority rule. It failed. It created the crisis. It is defective and needs to be reviewed.

Warren L. Wright BA LLB


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