The right to vote
Running unopposed in the elections should be unconstitutional. It is anti-democratic. When unopposed candidates (e.g. PM) refer to the village council validating, supporting and giving unanimity to their candidacies, that negates the universal suffrage passed in 1990.
It is the law now that everyone 21 and over - matai or non-matai - are eligible to vote in the elections. So what happens when the village council, by traditional consensus, choose one candidate and ban a second one to run against the consensus candidate?
Samoa ends up back in the pre-universal suffrage years of the matai only vote.
It is discriminatory, especially to the youth and to non-titleholders. These voters do not have a voice in the village council and are now stripped of their right to vote and robbed of their voice in the elections.
The matai is now, again, making the decision for and on their behalf. E togi le moa ae u’u le ‘afa. The matai only Members of Parliament should be enough to satisfy Samoa’s desire to hold onto some of her traditions and for her penchant for a cultural democracy.
But let the people’s voice be heard. At least have a provision for write-in candidates/votes in the case of unopposed elections. Political party affiliation can be made/decided after, but the citizens should be given a chance to exercise their right to vote.
Let’s protect the principle of one person one vote - not one person and ten votes which is the concept behind village council consensus, where the matai makes the decision and votes for his/her adult family members.
The right to vote should be valued and protected. It’s about the only time there’s a sense of real equality in a mostly status-based society. Speaking of protecting citizens’ rights, isn’t there a Human Rights Protection Party in Samoa? Ahem!
Lalomanu and Utah