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Upolu gains two new seats, Savai'i loses one

A new division of electoral constituencies created by changes to the electoral law has given Upolu two additional seats in Parliament and removed one from Savai’i.

In the 2016 General Election, there were 28 seats in Upolu and 21 for parliamentarians from Savai’i. 

But the new changes reduce the number of seats for Savai’i by one; it now has 20 seats and gives Upolu two additional, which will have 31 seats in the next Parliament. 

The Urban and Vaimauga seat has also been merged to make up for one of the additional seats in Upolu and another seat for Faleata in Upolu. One of the three Gagaemauga seats in Savai'i will be removed in the upcoming election.

“There are now 20 electoral constituencies in Savai’i and 31 in Upolu,” said the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio. 

Faimalo said the number of territorial or traditional constituencies in both Savai’i and Upolu are still the same. 

“The new division of electoral boundaries hasn’t excluded any village from the elections,” he explained. 

“All villages around Samoa are represented in each electoral constituency. 

“The whole logic behind the division of the electoral was to address first and foremost the geographical anomalies that existed in the previous set up of Territorial Constituencies.”

For example, the previous Territorial Constituencies Act 1963 split the seat of Alamagoto between Vaimauga and Faleata, said the Electoral Commissioner. 

He said where exactly that division was drawn was never clear. 

Other villages affected under the changes to the electoral map include Salamumu, Leauva’a and Faleapuna. 

“Those geographical anomalies have now been addressed in the new divisions,” he added. 

The Commissioner said population movements and density as well as new electoral boundaries had also motivated the changing of the boundaries. 

He said there had been a sharp increase in the number of people moving mainly from Savai’i to Vaimauga, Faleata and Sagaga in Upolu. 

“It’s predicted that this trend will continue on its same path in the future hence the additional seats in these electoral constituencies,” he added.

The newly defined electoral boundaries has led to the Gagaemauga no2 seat, which consists of Saleaula in Savai’i and Salamumu in Upolu being split, severing the village’s traditional ties in terms of cultural honorifics and titles.

In the upcoming election, Saleaula will now vote in Gagaemauga no1 with Patamea, Samalaeulu and Mauga while Salamumu villagers will vote in Safata 1 seat with Sa'anapu, Sataoa and Lotofaga. 

The changes have forced the current M.P. for Va’a o Fonoti, who is also the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt to contest from Anoama’a east seat in the 2021 General Election. 

This is due to the village of Faleapuna that he holds the Tialavea title from being included under the Anoama’a East electoral boundary.

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