New map – PNG electoral boundaries

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Papua New Guinea goes to the polls next month to elect the national parliament, and for the first time since 1977 there has been a redistribution of electoral boundaries. Seven existing electorates have been split in half to create seven new seats. Another six electorates will be split in half in 2027.

I explained the decisions about which seats have been split in this blog post back in April, but I’ve now produced updated electoral maps showing the 2022 and 2027 elections, along with a unified 2017 electoral map. After the fold I’ve produced an interactive map showing the three sets of maps, with seats being split highlighted. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a big file, but give it some time to load.

I’ll also explain some of the weird inconsistencies I’ve found in the process of making the map – I am not 100% confident of the boundaries, but it’s the best that can be done with the available information.

So I haven’t been able to find any map showing the PNG electoral map overall. The closest I’ve been able to find is these shapefiles, which have the pre-redistribution district boundaries for all of the open electorates except for the three National Capital District electorates. There are also shapefiles for the provinces and local-level governments (LLG).

The report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission contains no maps, but luckily the changes appear to be rather neat and easy to follow. It appears that the 13 splits involve a single electorate being split in half, and the divides follow LLG boundaries, so I can simply use the LLG shapefiles to modify the electorate boundaries.

Unfortunately there were a few aberrations that don’t fit with this assumption. The only other piece of information is a series of PDF files published by the PNGEC featuring electorate maps. Sadly they’ve only published them for the seven new seats that have new names (not the other seven seats which are also new but inherit the name of the former seat). Here’s the file for Magarima. So in some cases I can cross-check the EBC report and shapefiiles, and I have found some bits that don’t line up.

I also have not been able to draw a map of the new Port Moresby-area electorate of Motu Koitabu, due to be created in 2027. The EBC report simply describes the new seat as covering “Motu Koitabu wards” but I can’t find a map of that area. If you know what that means, let me know? In the meantime the 2027 map doesn’t show this split seat.

Here is a list of all the aberrations I found, for the record. Hopefully at some point more data will emerge that will make it possible to draw a more accurate map.

  • The map shows a small area remaining in Middle Fly despite the LLG shapefile suggesting it’s been moved into Delta Fly. Doesn’t have implications for provincial or 2017 open electorate boundaries.
  • The seat of Popondetta was created by splitting Ijivitari. The EBC report says that Popondetta covers part of Higaturu Rural LLG, but according to the 2017 electorate shapefile this LLG is entirely contained within the neighbouring seat of Sohe. The PNGEC map suggests that the Popondetta-Sohe border is further to the west than the shapefile suggests, providing more area around the city of Popondetta. Indeed it suggests that Sohe’s border with both Popondetta and Ijivitari is different than the old border with Ijivitari in the shapefile. I’ve updated the 2022 and 2027 boundaries to reflect this, but left 2017 alone. Have there been greater changes between 2017 and 2022 than simply splitting a seat in half, or was the 2017 shapefile wrong? This boundary doesn’t have an impact on provincial borders.
  • The seat of Lagaip/Pogera has been split into Lagaip and Pogera Paiela, but the PNGEC map suggests the LLG border is not followed for the whole electorate boundary – for part of the border it’s simply a straight line, which was relatively easy to estimate. Doesn’t have implications for provincial or 2017 open electorate boundaries.
  • The seat of Wau Waria has been created through splitting Bulolo. The EBC report suggests the border should run between the Watut Rural and Wau Rural LLGs, but the PNGEC report suggests the electorate boundary doesn’t run quite so close to the Bulolo urban area.Doesn’t have implications for provincial or 2017 open electorate boundaries.
  • The new seat of Magarima has split off from Komo Hulia (formerly Komo/Magarima). The border between the new seats is clear enough, but the PNGEC suggests Magarima’s border with Mendi/Munihu and Nipa/Kutubu (which is also a provincial border) is slightly different to the shapefiles.
  • The most interesting outcome is the 2027 split of Imbonggu. The maps suggest that the Mendi Urban LLG is currently in the seat of Mendi/Munihu and the Mendi Rural LLG which surrounds it on three sides is in Imbonggu. The EBC report says that a new seat of Mendi Central will be created out of those two LLGs, but is written as if the entire area is currently in Imbonggu. It seems like a logical change but isn’t consistent with the supposed simplicity of the redistribution.

That’s it for now! I’ll be back next week with some blog posts using these new maps to visualise some interesting PNG electoral data.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this Ben. It’s good to see an attempt being made to drill down into the specifics of PNG elections and electorates.

    Do you know if there are PNG based psephology people who study or have produced reports on their elections?

  2. Looking at the last election, the winning party only had 13% of the votes despite already being the largest vote. I looked there were many parties contesting that won seats. Could this be due to the tribal nature of the PNG?

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