Elections under the microscope
The successes, challenges and changes of the Samoan electoral system have been at the forefront of discussions at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel this week.
It is where relevant stakeholders are attending a three-day “Democracy and Development in Samoa: the Role of Elections" national conference which started on Monday.
The meeting was opened by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who said the conference is part of the government’s drive for a freer and fairer democratic election.
He said the discussion would identify key issues, particularly to improve the participation of youth, women, and people with disabilities.
“The conference will allow for intellectual sharing amongst government officials, members of the private sectors, Chiefs from the village council and Ministers from denominations,” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that having a democratic government is not all good and not all bad. He points to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler who was elected President of Germany in 1930’s and noted this was the result of having a democratic government.
Looking back, Tuilaepa said his administration has passed many laws to improve the election process.
“I remember the first time amendments were passed to require the voters to have voters identification, as there were many people voting using identities of people who have already passed away,” he said.
“This is one of the important issues that needs to be addressed, to remove all the dead people from the list.”
The Prime Minister also addressed the issue of registration. He said voters should register themselves and yet they sit around and wait for candidates to take them.
According to the Prime Minister, keeping the elections clean, fair and freer is a massive challenge.
“Why? Because the candidates are very creative in ways to win the election,” he said.
“The ways things are done is that it’s either legally or illegally, but that goes to show their determination to get the power/authority that comes with winning the election.”
The conference will culminate with a National Voters Day.
The Voters Day will focus on improving youth participation in the electoral process, after evidence from the recent election revealed low youth participation.