Fernanda Borges, ex-Minister of Finance under UNTAET and founder of PUN, Partido de Unidade Nacional, will quite possibly sit in the next session of Parliament.
Of the new ‘mini-parties’ PUN is ahead of the pack. The party is strong in Ermera and Bobanaro and reportedly enjoys some support from Colimau 2000, a disaffected cult-like group in those districts.
In Ermera, a highly populated district with a large electorate, her party was polling 20+% with over half of votes counted. If the trend continues over the last 100,000 vote yet to be counted, Ermera alone will deliver her a seat. PUN also polled well in Bobanaro. (It should be noted that Bobanaro showed significantly lower voter turnout than any other district: only 60% of the electorate voted.)
PUN, according to the Australian Labour Party’s political party briefing, is a center-right party which advocates minimal government intervention in the market. It upholds what it deems to be Christian values. Borges resigned from the UNTAET-era cabinet because of concerns over good governance and, quoting her resignation letter, over “lack of transparency in developing policy.” She is keen on extending basic services to rural areas and implementing pre-natal and maternal health programs.
If elected, she will be one of the strongest female voices in parliament. Additionally, the result is increasingly pointing towards a coalition in government and so one or more seats could provide significant bargaining power to PUN.
L7’s UNDERTIM and the monarchists of PPT-KOTA may also gain a seat, saving them from oblivion.
The other mini-parties such as Abílio Araujo’s PNT, João Saldanha’s Republican Party, the Socialists, and the Christian Democrats did not fare as well. It will be interesting to see what is next for them.
The success of PUN may indicate the importance of ties to highly populated areas for small parties, but it may also indicate that voters across Timor are starting to more than ever feel free to vote their conscience. And perhaps PUN and Borges simply appealed more to the electorate.