Political analyst promotes informed voting

A Samoan academic and Political Scientist, Christina Laalaai-Tausa, has appealed for change in voter behvaiour, pointing out that voters in Samoa tend to go for candidates to whom they have personal affiliations with.

New Zealand-based Laalaai-Tausa, who has a PhD in Political Science from Massey University, told E.T. Live that Samoa is one few democracies where voters vote for a candidate who is a member of their family, is from the same village as the voter or from within the same constituency.

She said unlike Samoa, universal suffrage in other democracies sees voters voting for candidates based on the manifesto of their political parties or interest to address the welfare of the community. 

"This implies that our people are not voting for any guiding principles, policies or laws, they are voting because they are related to the candidate running in the General Election," she said. 

"This is due to the lack of information given out to the people of Samoa regarding their vote, leading up to the general elections."

Asked by the E.T. Live host whose job it is to implement voter awareness programmes targeting eligible voters in Samoa, Laalaai-Tausa said Samoa does not have platforms that will give candidates the opportunity to publicise their policies to potential voters.

"However, right now, we do not have any specifications like other democracies such as New Zealand, Australia and America. Leading up to the General Election, there are debates and discussions of issues within constituencies and such," she said. "This is where they have speeches describing to the country that should one be elected in office, such and such will be done. 

"If such things are done by Members of Parliament by our country, it would be easy for voters to distinguish who they want to vote for, depending on what they propose to be done should they win the election."  

Laalaai-Tausa then reminded voters in Samoa that the power rests with the people and not with those running for office, saying the function of eligible voters participating in polling is not fully satisfied as long as they vote based on relations.

"It is important for our voters not to forget that they hold the key to the candidates who wish to run in the next elections. In simple words, they have the power to vote them in, and they have the power to vote them out," she added. "What I mean to say is our voters should not be sitting around during this time, thinking to wait until someone approaches them, no, ask questions. 

"I'm sure there are villages with up to three or four candidates intending to run in the coming election, and if all four want to run in the current political party, the voters of the village or constituency must be asking the four to come in and discuss their goals, let us ask and see why they want to be in Parliament and what they can offer for the country."

Samoa’s General Election is scheduled for April 9, 2021 with five political parties registering to contest the election.

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