Historic election creates a new political landscape in Samoa

Fiame Naomi Mata'afa and Tuilaepa Dr. Sai'lele Malielegaoi. Photo courtesy of Samoa Observer

Apia-- Nearly 60 years since independence and 39 years after the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) took over the reins as government, a new dawn is on the horizon in Samoa.

Voters in Samoa went to the polls April 9. Preliminary results have the HRPP and the Fa’atuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) Party locked at 25 members each. Independent MP Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio has emerged as the likely kingmaker to form a government in the 51-member parliament.

The election results have already guaranteed a robust opposition party, an essential element of democracy that has been missing for a decade. It has been 10 long years since Samoa has had an official opposition party recognized in parliament. This has reduced Samoa’s democracy to a one-party state where the HRPP has had total dominance over the country’s affairs, allowing Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his administration to do whatever they wanted, whenever and however.

But it is the possibility of the changing of the guard in government upon which all eyes are fixed.

We live in a country where many generations have known no other government other than the HRPP. The last change of government was nearly 40 years to this day.

The leadership of the late Tofilau Dr. Eti Alesana, incumbent Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the HRPP government must be commended for a number of wonderful achievements.