Tonga Political System

According to, with capital city of Nuku’alofa, Tonga is a country located in Polynesia with total population of 105,706.

Since independence in 1970, Tonga has been a unified state monarchy within the Commonwealth, the only monarchy in the Pacific. The form of government dates back to 1875; it is to some extent democratized in recent times, but the king is still the real leader. He heads the government, the Privy Council, and has placed close relatives in key positions. In addition to the king, the council has twelve life-long ministers, including the prime minister, and the governors of Ha’apai and Vava’u. The Council has a certain legislative authority, but it is mainly in the National Assembly. It is called Fale Alea, elected for three years and has 32 members; the government (12), the two governors, nine nobles, elected by Tonga’s 33 noble families, and nine representatives elected in the general election.

The judiciary

The judiciary comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and, as the first instance, eight magistrates’ courts. The Supreme Court chairman chairs the appeals court, which otherwise includes three judges from other Commonwealth countries. Prosecutors in criminal cases and the parties in civil cases can ask a jury when cases are pending in the Supreme Court. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how TO can stand for Tonga.

Weights and Measures

Dimensions and weight are British and metric.

Tonga’s defense

Tonga has volunteer military service. The country has a total workforce of about 500 personnel. The forces are easily equipped. Tonga has a small navy operating patrol boats, and a small air component. The country cooperates closely with Australia in defense matters.


During the transition from the 20th to the 21st century. Tonga’s political scene presented characteristics of substantial immobility. In a country characterized by a profoundly authoritarian and paternalistic political system, in which only a third of the deputies were elected by popular vote, and the crown exercised almost absolute control over the possibility of expression of political forces and public opinion, the battle carried forward by the opposition party during the nineties for a democratization of the country did not yet seem to be able to translate into significant changes. Born in 1992 as the Tonga pro-Democracy Movement , the only opposition party in the country, in 1998changed its name to Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement (THRDM).

The elections of March 1999 also disappointed the expectations of the THRDM which, led by A. Pohiva, won only five of the nine eligible seats (another nine were elected by the 33 nobles of Tonga, and sat in Parliament alongside the 12 members of the government appointed by the king).

In the elections of March 2002, the THRDM won 7 seats out of the 9 eligible, thus demonstrating the existence in the country of widespread democratic demands. Thus, while the THRDM called for a constitutional reform that would guarantee greater spaces for democracy in the social and political life of the country, the government for its part adopted, in October 2003, a constitutional amendment that strengthened the powers of control over the media by the executive. However, the confirmation, in the subsequent elections of March 2005, of the consensus enjoyed by the THRDM (which once again won 7 seats and which in November of the same year took the name of Friendly Islands Human Rights and Democracy Movement ) led the new government following the elections to cancel the amendment.

The social discontent, however, was in the meantime worsening: in July 2005 public employees gave rise to the first national strike that caused the country to be paralyzed for months, and in which economic motivations were intertwined with political motivations: a few days after September agreement, a protest march of 10,000 people asked King Taufa’ahau Tupou iv to appoint a commission to reform the constitution. In September 2006, with the death of the elderly king, who had been in power since 1965, and with the succession to the reign of his son George Tupou v, the country seemed to be moving towards democracy. Thus, faced with the explosion, in November, of a vast popular protest that swept the capital Nuku’alofa with even violent clashes, the Parliament proclaimed a new constitutional law that established a Chamber of 30 members, of which 21 elected by the citizens and 9 representatives of noble families.