Political parties and electoral politics
National elections in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have tended to be essentially contests between local personalities, and focused primarily on local issues. Members of Parliament are widely expected to respond to local concerns, including pressures to provide or improve infrastructure and services in their electorates, and to respond to local requests, sometimes amounting to demands, for funds for causes as diverse as customary funeral, marriage or other exchanges, and contributions to churches, sporting and other local organisations; school, medical and other fees; and other personal, family and community needs. It is not always clear whether this means that prospective voters and constituents are opportunistically trying to use or fill spaces in introduced institutions, organisations and/or practices; whether they are (at least, figuratively) capturing, colonizing or seeking to subvert them from below, as some writers have put it; or whether, as Joseph Ketan (2004: 36) has argued, they are actively incorporating or merging them into local societies and competitions (which may be traditional or, more likely, themselves influenced by changes that have occurred following the imposition of the state).
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