Peter O'Neill (left) and Sir Michael Somare (right).
Peter O'Neill has been sworn in as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea once again, following elections that were in the main mercifully violence free. With no help or intervention from Papua New Guinea's head of State - Britain's Queen Elizabeth - the constitutional crisis that was threatening to turn violent in December last year (and resulted in a mutiny) has been resolved, in O'Neills favour. We can only hope now that Papua New Guinea can carry on as a stable democracy, but given the way this crisis came about and the underlying reasons for it being unresolved, that seems rather doubtful.

What's interesting about Papua New Guinea from the perspective of the New Zealand republic debate is that Monarchy New Zealand very quickly changed its tune on the country. One month they attacked Papua New Guinea for electing its Governor-General, in a similar way the Republican Movement had proposed as an interim step to a New Zealand republic. The next month they contradicted that position by praising the country for being a monarchy and therefore having the capability to resolve the constitutional crisis. Both claims have now been proven wrong.

The monarchists have proved that they are either incapable of understanding the reasons why some democracies work and others don't (hint: it's got nothing to do with whether a country is a republic or monarchy) or at lying consistently. In fairness their understanding of democracy seems so weak that I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, they seem to realise that ridiculous claims such as "of the top 10 democracies, 7 are monarchies" sticks in the minds of New Zealanders (in fact that's a single measure from a much-disputed study; there's 25 "full democracies" in the world, of which the majority are republics - and moreover the vast majority of people actually live in republican democracies).