Freedom in the World
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
An electoral reform commission, which issued its final report in November 2009, made a number of recommendations, including that the king appoint the prime minister only on the advice of the parliament. Five elected lawmakers were acquitted in September of sedition charges associated with the 2006 riots. An inter-island ferry sank in September, killing 74 passengers, and the ensuing investigation deepened public discontent over the government’s mismanagement in its handling of the disaster.
In September, the parliament rejected ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women on the grounds that it conflicts with Tongan culture, citing that it would provide women with land ownership rights and allow abortion and same-sex marriage.
Tonga is not an electoral democracy. The parliament has 9 popularly-elected members, 9 nobles elected by their peers, 10 members of the privy council, and 2 governors selected by the king. The king appoints the prime minister (a lifelong position) and the cabinet.