Tommy wins presidency by 264 votes over Surangel
Arnold prevails with 579 lead over Yosi for vice president
By: L.N. Reklai
November 9, 2016 (Koror, Palau) President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. makes history again by winning his 4th term of office according to the unofficial results of the 2016 general election showing him with a clear lead of 264 votes, garnering 5,129 over Surangel Whipps Jr.’s 4,865 for the Office of the President.
After tabulation of absentee ballots concluded Tuesday night, it also shows Senator Raynold “Arnold” Oilouch winning by 579 votes over Governor Yositaka Adachi for the Office of the Vice President.
Expressing his gratitude to the people of Palau yesterday, President Tommy Remengesau Jr., thanked the strong and organized grassroots movement that reached out to thousands of Palauans here and abroad. “Throughout my life and career as your grassroots candidate, I have never been through an election such as this. It took so much to get this far and I am sure you and your family feel the same way. The longest and most costly campaign in our history required us to keep up with the unprecedented campaign efforts of our opponents.”
Remengesau Jr. pledged to work to overhaul the election process. “Running for Office should not cost so much money. I am committed to work with the OEK to reform “campaign” policy to create stringent campaign finance and political contributions regulations so that democracy may truly take its course in the election process and not allow “contributions” to influence voter decisions.”
Surangel Whipps Jr. also came out to publicly thank his supporters and the Palauan people yesterday. “The election is over but we should continue to talk about these issues, especially focusing on development of Palauan people, by prioritizing them, such as turning the Bureau of Labor to a Ministry level with funding to help Palauans get jobs and maintain jobs,” stated Surangel Whipps Jr. in an interview.
“The 5 million campaign budget was just a joke my dad made at Council of Chiefs meeting when they asked him how much money I will use to campaign. Our actual cost is around $500,000. This will be reported to Ethics Commission so anyone can see,” clarified Surangel on his campaign expense.
“I will focus on my family now, especially my children who are still very young and of course the business. But as my wife says, we should promote social awareness so that people can keep the focus on the social issues, prioritizing people,” added Surangel Jr. of his plans after the election.
Perhaps one of the most heated general elections since Palau adopted the democratic system of government, the election pitted experienced and accomplished individuals against each other.
For the Office the President, the tension was greater by reason of familial relations of the two candidates. Surangel Whipps Jr. is the brother-in-law of Tommy Remengesau Jr. and both have worked together since the 8th OEK.
The slim margin of 264 votes between the presidential candidates took a lot of people by surprise as many have predicted incumbent President Remengesau Jr. to maintain a wide margin between the two.
Primary elections showed Remengesau with little over a 1,000 votes lead over Whipps. This general election, that margin was reduced significantly to 264.
Former presidential candidates Sandra Pierantozzi and Antonio Bells threw their support behind Whipps after losing the primary. They held a combined vote of 1,107.
Mlib Tmetuchl, vice presidential candidate who had 2,195 votes at the primary threw his support behind Yositaka Adachi after the primary election.
Raynold “Arnold” Oilouch led by 1,554 votes in the primary, gained 641 to overcome Yositaka Adachi in the general election. Yositaka Adachi gained 1,642 new votes but didn’t have enough to beat Arnold.
Predictions that Tommy and Arnold will win the top offices in the land came true but the predicted differences were significantly slimmer between the candidates for president and vice president posts.
Speculation about the causes of such narrow margins is the topic of interest in town. What is clear is that the country is nearly split in the middle with their choices, with 51% for Tommy and 48% for Surangel. For vice president, Arnold has 51% and Yositaka Adachi has 48%.