The people have spoken, respect the votes

By The Editorial Board 16 September 2023, 10:00AM

Three constituencies went through by-elections this week and hopefully the voters had a reason to vote the right man in and looking at the preliminary results, the three former members of parliaments are all set to get their seats back.

People have come out and exercised their right to vote to decide on who will make a difference in their lives. They have voted for people who will carry their voices to the place where decisions are made at national level.

The people have spoken and it surely paints a picture of where the majority of votes lie as Samoa is just two and half years from general election.

Candidates endorsed by the ruling Fa'atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) have taken commanding leads in the three by-elections at the conclusion of the unofficial count on Friday.

The preliminary results from the unofficial count at the Office of the Electoral Commission (O.E.C.) after polling closed at 3 pm on Friday show Ale Vena Ale (Faleata No. 4), Mau'u Siaosi Puepuemai (Vaa o Fonoti) and Tuu'u Anasii Leota (Siumu) are leading.

Ale is leading by a mile for the Faleata No. 4 seat securing 867 votes with his independent opponent Ulu Bismarck Crawley getting 396 ballots.

In Vaa o Fonoti, Mauu is in first place with 739 votes, followed by his Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) opponent, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri who has so far secured 201 votes. While Feutagaiimealelei Osovale Brown of the Constitution Democracy Republic Party is third with 32 ballots.

In the Siumu district, Tuu'u Anasii is leading with 599 votes followed by independent candidate Faalogo Kapeli Faalogo with 505 votes while the H.R.P.P. candidate, Tuu'u Amaramo Sialaoa is running third with 184 ballots.

Before the elections, Opposition Leader Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi appealed to all eligible voters to make a "smart choice" when deciding who they should vote for in the by-elections.

The official count takes place on Saturday and results would be out later in the day, it is imperative that the people in all constituencies accept the final results irrespective of who they voted for. For the members of parliament, it is also their duty to represent all people in their constituency, irrespective of the fact that some did not vote for them.

This is how democracy works. In Samoa’s case, all members of parliaments are chiefs (matai) and they should already have an idea of what it means to lead and serve the people.

In any democracy, the representation of the people must be the basic source of authority for a body that makes the laws under which society operates. The electorate will therefore expect that their respective member of parliaments represents their interests.

Most MPs will agree that the only tenable view is that they are representatives, not delegates, of the people who elected them. They have to try to exercise judgment on behalf of those they represent rather than subordinating their views to them.

This does not mean that they can ignore constituency interests but it does mean acceptance of the position that the vast majority of MPs are elected as members of political parties rather than as individuals and that the manifesto commitments of the party provide the platform for action.

MPs have to try and meet their constituency commitments by regular meetings with constituents in their electorates. If these interests are not attended to, no amount of party commitment can guarantee a return to parliament at the next election.

Those who will take seat in parliament have also to remember that access to one’s MP is a form of contact that is significant, important and greatly valued by voters. Without that contact, the basis for a democratic legislature could come under serious question. Thus, MPs find themselves not just the representatives of the electorate that chose them but also elements in a political party mechanism.

In the case of Samoa, we now have the district development project and this entitles all MPs in Samoa with $1 million at their disposal every year, with which they can do good for the people they represent. They have the added responsibility to use the funds in an accountable and transparent manner befitting the good of the people they represent.

The people have spoken and with switched political alliances, hopefully the three who will be declared winners are able to do more for their community. The results could also be an indication of where the nation is heading to when the next general elections happen.

By The Editorial Board 16 September 2023, 10:00AM
Samoa Observer

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