Timor-Leste’s Parliamentary Elections held on the 22nd of July were hailed as a great success with international observers noting the 'orderly and calm environment' and describing the elections as 'well-administered, credible and inclusive'.
The result of the poll was extraordinarily close with the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction party (CNRT), led by Xanana Gusmão, gaining 22 seats and the Fretilin Party 23 seats in the 65-seat National Parliament.
Turn out was high at 76.74% and the number of women elected constituted 32.3% of the parliamentary members. These figures reflect Timor-Leste’s ranking as the most democratic nation in South East Asia.
Many commentators read the result of the election as a strong endorsement of the two major parties and expected CNRT and Fretilin to work together to form a coalition Government. This was a view formed in light of the cooperation that had been a hallmark of the Sixth Constitutional Government.
Minister Gusmão, however, proved true to his promise, stated consistently on the campaign trail, that CNRT would only govern with a majority in National Parliament and would not be part of a coalition Government. Speaking at a meeting of the National Congress of the CNRT after the election Minister Gusmão said that he had reflected on the results and called on his party members to also consider what they could have done better and how to move forward to best serve the nation.
In an interview with Portuguese news outlet LUSA Minister Gusmão explained:
'This is the right moment for Fretilin, as the winning party of the 2017 elections, to assume, and with full legitimacy, the reins of government'.
He made it clear that CNRT would serve in opposition 'to contribute to the process of nation building, to consolidate the democratic transition in this country'.
Immediately following the election Minister Gusmão flew to meetings in Copenhagen where as Chief Negotiator for Maritime Boundaries he was able to break new ground in the conciliation between Timor-Leste and Australia.