Government of Timor-Leste congratulates voters across the country for contributing to stability and tranquillity during elections of community leaders

The Ministry of State Administration, together with the Municipal Authorities and the Special Administrative Region of Oe-Cusse Ambeno (RAEOA) and the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE), in a press release, expressed their appreciation and congratulations to voters across the country for the great enthusiasm with which they exercised their right to vote and for contributing to stability and tranquillity during the elections of community leaders, which took place on October 28th, 2023.

The electoral process, which encompassed 452 Village (Suco) and 2,322 Hamlets (aldeias), plays a fundamental role in promoting the participation of communities in political life within the context of the decentralisation policy, which aims to grant powers to local levels to make decisions and actively participate in democracy and local development.

Village Councils are collective entities of public law with an associative nature, which are based on historical, cultural and traditional circumstances relating to the appointment of the members of Village bodies, carried out through fair, community-based elections. This means that the members of the Village Councils and their Assemblies organise and lead the process of electing Village bodies.

The legal framework for these elections was based on Law no. 9/2016, of July 8th, the Village Law, and Government Decree no. 14/2016, of September 28th, on the Electoral Regulations for Village bodies. The process was also regulated by Government Decree 9/2023 of August 16th, 2023, which set the date for holding Hamlets Assemblies, Village Assemblies and Village Councils as part of the Election of Community Leaders procedure. In addition, Ministerial Diploma 39/2023 of September 15th established the models and forms required for the electoral process of Village bodies.

The electoral process was organised and supported by various authorities, including Municipal Authorities, Municipal Administrations and the STAE, following Article 97 of Government Decree No. 14/2016 on electoral bodies, as referred to in Article 96 of Law No. 9/2016. It was also monitored by a Ministry of State Administration team established by ministerial order.

The electoral process occurred in several stages, from accepting nominations to voting day on October 28th. 2,117 nominations for Village Chief were received, of which 1,876 were men and 241 were women. The system used to tabulate the results for the election of Village Chiefs and Hamlets Chiefs is based on the 50 per cent + 1 system, which means that a candidate must receive half of the valid votes plus one to be elected. For the position of Delegate, a simple majority approach is used.

The vote counting and tabulation process followed the established rules. For the position of Delegate, almost all the candidates were already elected on election day due to the simple majority system. The majority has already been elected for the position of Hamlet Chief, given that the second round of elections for the position of Hamlet Chief took place immediately after the vote count. Regarding the election of Village Chiefs, in 251 Villages (60% of the total), none of the candidates reached the 50% + 1 threshold. Therefore, they will proceed to a second round of elections on November 13th.

The Ministry of State Administration, the Municipal and RAEOA Authorities, and the STAE regret the constraints and highlight the challenges encountered during the electoral process, including the tight timetable due to the 9th Constitutional Government taking office on July 1st, 2023. According to the current law, the elections of community leaders are held in the Hamlets, and the polling stations operate in the Hamlets. Also, according to current legislation, nominations for Hamlet Chief and Delegate are submitted on polling day itself, and there is no time to produce ballot papers with photographs, so the polling station staff write down the data manually.