Preliminary results from East Timor’s parliamentary election indicate that a change in leadership appears likely, as the leading member of the governing coalition has fallen behind its junior coalition partner. The National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), led by the former independence hero Xanana Gusmao, won just 28 percent of the vote, down from 36.7 percent in the 2012 election, which it won. Fretilin, or Revolutionary Front for an independent East Timor, appears to have won the election with 30 percent – essentially the same level of support it won five years ago.
CNRT was hurt by a struggling economy and two new political parties that ate into their support. The Popular Liberation Party, led by former President Taur Matan Ruak, and the Democratic Party will both enter parliament having received 10 percent of the vote, respectively.
The secretary-general of Fretilin, Mari Alkatiri, told supporters the party was open to forming a coalition with the CNRT, sparking raucous applause and chants of “Viva Fretilin.”
Saturday’s election was East Timor’s first national vote without United Nations supervision. UN peacekeepers left the country in 2012 – 10 years after it gained independence from a repressive Indonesian occupation.