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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Elections in Samoa

It's election time in Samoa at the moment and voters went to the polls today. There are two main political parties vying for government, the reigning HRPP and wavering Tautua party. HRPP have been in power for about 20 years and in their last ruling the one opposition party in parliament at the time dissolved because they could not agree on anything really which left the opposition party with under 8 members which under the constitution meant there was no party. Moreover according to the law no party can be formed after the elections by any members of parliament. So it's a foolproof law to protect the ruling party. So our country has been a one party state for the past four years and a lot was done with no one to oppose some interesting law changes and implementations. The road switch occurred which cost the country unnecessarily but it went smoothly and now there are cheaper cars in Samoa, some quite old but affordable for the masses. The land laws have been altered to give power to the local residents to do as they please with family land. I think now foreigners can buy land in Samoa which wasn't allowed before. A casino bill was passed to allow casinos in Samoa to a lot of people's dismay. 
Currently the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele will win again at these elections due to the fact that he's the only candidate from his electorate. A new law gives the pulenuu or mayor of the village the power to qualify a candidate for elections due to their contribution to the village. It turns out that two candidates that contested the PM's seat were disqualified by the pulenuu due to their lack of contribution to the village in the past. On Samoa Observer, one of the disqualified candidates complained that he had been contributing to the village through his mother who confirmed this! So am not sure if this is very democratic or honest but personally I think this method allows for corruption as the mayor can make a call in favour of whom he chooses to stand for elections. So if the mayor gets handouts of sorts from one chief he would happily make sure there's no contest for that candidate to ensure an easy win! A very controversial rule if you ask me.  
Well who-ever wins I hope they're good to Samoa but mostly I hope there are two parties in the new government to keep some sort of a balance. Good Luck Samoa
Moreover in Samoa the village fono of chiefs who are head of families make a lot of decisions and some of these decisions is informing the village that they should vote for a certain candidate. So if a family decides to defy the village and vote for someone else then they face eviction from the village or their home being burnt down. What boggles the mind is, how do people know who one votes for when you're basically in the booth for yourself! That means people come out and tell everyone who they voted for and face the fate decided by the village.
As politics go, those in power for so long lose sight of the realities of the people and just play their games. My hope for the current elections is not for one party to win, but for TWO parties to have representation in parliament so there is a proper discussion

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