Samoan general election, 2011
All 49 seats to the Fono
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A general election was held in Samoa on 4 March 2011, in which the people elected the 49 seats of the Fono for its 15th term. Unlike most neighbouring countries in the Pacific, Samoa has established party politics. The major contesting parties were that of incumbent Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP); and the Tautua Samoa Party (TSP), a newly formed opposition party which included candidates from recently disbanded parties like the Samoa Party.
The result was a landslide victory for the HRPP, which secured 36 out of the 49 seats available. The TSP won the remaining 13 seats. Tuilaepa won his seat unopposed and will continue as prime minister.
Samoa's legislative assembly, the Fono, is composed of 49 seats, each serving a five-year term. Forty-seven members are elected from the forty-one village-based constituencies (four of the larger electorates have two representatives each), while two members are elected by independent voters with no village affiliation.
Only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the forty-seven village-based seats, while the other two are open to anybody. Once the results of the election are confirmed, the Prime Minister is then appointed by the head of state, the O le Ao o le Malo.
The Human Rights Protection Party promised to focus on health, education, agriculture, infrastructural development, the development of renewable energy, and a pledge to "turn Samoa into the sports hub of the Pacific". In a speech on 22 February, the Prime Minister emphasised the party's maturity and experience in government. He promised continuity in policies, and drew attention to what he described as the government's major achievements in recent years: the election of the head of state; the development of infrastructure; economic growth, and the development of businesses and the private sector; a well-managed budget; the hosting of the 2007 Pacific Games; the switching from right- to left-hand driving throughout the country (in fact an extremely controversial policy, which generated the largest protest in Samoan history); and the government's response to the 2009 earthquake and tsunami. For the future, he announced a broad range of policies to improve Samoans' health, including an increase in the number of locally trained medical staff, an increase in the number of hospitals, a policy of compulsory twice-a-year testing of all Samoans to detect cancer in advance, and the promotion of organic farming, along with a "bonus scheme" to reduce the use of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture, to facilitate healthier diets. He stated that these promises could all be realistically financed, and concluded: "Your one vote can set the direction of Samoa for the next five years. It’s very important who you choose because you could benefit or you will bring a curse on you and your family for the next five years. So vote for the HRPP and be blessed".
The Tautua Samoa Party promised to focus on lowering the cost of living, and halting the government's Casino and Gambling Bill, which would legalise casino gaming in the country. The Value Added Goods and Services Tax would be abolished; pensions would be raised for the elderly; children below the age of 12 would receive free health care. The party also promised to "encourage farming and develop agriculture"; "lower the cost of electricity and other utilities"; " develop education and health services through the raising of salaries and enforcing compulsory education"; and promote the development of the private sector. Asked how these promises would be funded, in particular considering the promised abolition of VAGST, the party's deputy leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II, stated that "God will provide for us", and that the party would seek additional international aid. He added that the HRPP government had "wasted millions on unnecessary developments such as the new buildings towering over everything in Apia", and that under a TSP government all public spending would be transparent and accountable.
Less than a month prior to the election, it emerged that the Tautua Samoa Party's candidate in Prime Minister Tuilaepa's constituency might not be permitted to stand, as the mayor of his village was refusing to provide the legally necessary confirmation that he had served his village, Saleapaga. The candidate, Tu‘ula Tuitui, stated he had provided proof to the mayor that he had worked for the village in various ways, notably by taking part in recovery work after the recent earthquake and tsunami. He added that "chiefs and orators of Saleapaga ha[d] asked him several times not to run against Tuilaepa". Were Tuitui to be prevented from standing, the Prime Minister would retain his seat in Parliament uncontested. On 12 February 2011 two more candidates were prevented from standing for the same reason.
On 8 February 2011 it was reported that public servants running for Parliament had been ordered to resign, in contravention of Samoa's electoral act. The Electoral Act allows public servants to take special leave to contest elections.
At the beginning of March, it was announced by the electoral commissioner in American Samoa that American Samoans who cast ballots in Western Samoa's election would be subsequently ineligible to vote in their own country. Under United States electoral laws, a voter can be disqualified from voting if they vote in another country's election.
Summary of results
|Parties||List votes||%||Seats (list and nominal)|
|Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP)||48,771||55.6||29|
|Tautua Samoa Party (TSP)||21,692||24.7||13|
|Source: Samoa General Elections, 2011|
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- Electoral Act 1963, section 8.
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