AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA

Samoa’s Ruling Party Wins General Election in Landslide Victory

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The polls opened in Samoa on March 4, 2016, for the general elections to elect members of Parliament.

The elections saw the opposition struggle to win the necessary seats to qualify as a party in the Parliament.

The Tautua Samoa Party (TSP) had a crucial need to win eight seats in Parliament in order to be seen as a political party and to be regarded as an opposition in a parliament filled with independent members. The ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) looked certain to win the elections in a landslide victory with two-thirds majority, with caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi set to retain his title.

The ruling party registered a large number of candidates from the 164 candidates that stood for election. 81 candidates from the ruling party, 23 from the opposition and 60 independent candidates. A recent constitutional ruling reserved 10% of the seats in Parliament for women. This year recorded 24 women registered to contest for seats in parliament.

With previous elections in Samoa comes a temporary liquor ban to ensure smooth elections. The hotel association, restaurants and bars have pushed against it in the past stating that it affects tourism.

Samoa recorded a low turnout of voter registration with only 116,000 citizens registering to vote. There was also disappointment from the Electoral Commission on the lack of interest of young voters in the nation to participate in the upcoming general elections.

The elections in Samoa are generally interesting with continuous conversation about the electoral process, yet young voters have failed to register to participate.

Registering his disappointment, the Electoral Commissioner cited relying on the law to deal with the problems of apathy with young voters. He explored reliance on the prosecution office for advice on creating incentives for young voters with a possibility of paying huge fines. Quite an incentive EC!

This is counter-intuitive as there are several innovative strategies in encouraging young voters to be a part of the process, instead of fining young people who will go to the polls unwillingly, the Electoral Commissioner and his team should explore creative ways to make elections interesting enough for young people to participate.

*Prime ministers: Facebook (Govt of Samoa)

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