Election historic for Samoa, region: academic
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Pacific at the University of Auckland, Toeolesulusulu Dr. Damon Salesa, says Friday’s elections have been a historic milestone for Samoa but also the region.
Elections commenced with pre-polling for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and essential workers from Monday to Thursday, while all other voters cast their votes on Friday the 9th of April.
Toeolesulusulu talked about the Samoan General Elections on the TVNZ Breakfast with John Cambell and spoke about the many factors determining the yet-to-be-determined result.
“So in my sort of adult lifetime most Samoans have only ever known one Prime Minister, everyone just calls him ‘Palemia’,” Toeolesulusulu said.
“I mean he’s a powerful figure, probably the defining figure of Samoan history since its independence and for the first time we have got a viable challenger who of course as you pointed out was his former deputy,”
Toeolesulusulu noted that the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party had introduced a new kind of campaigning in Samoa, for which support from Samoans in New Zealand was essential.
He also noted the party’s use of social media, Facebook in particular to reach many people.
“They’re campaigning, they're putting up billboards,” he said.
As an Associate Professor of Pacific Studies, Toeolesuluslu said New Zealand should be watching this election closely.
“It's probably one of the most important elections New Zealand has ever seen,” he said.
Toeolesulusulu was then asked by Mr. Cambell if F.A.S.T could cross over the line to form Government and the academic responded by saying it was a live possibility.
"I think she is such a powerful influence. I think also something very strange happens in Samoa where a party, the H.R.P.P the current Government has multiple candidates in many constituencies so they actually split their own vote and so I think yeah having a consolidated party ticket, we haven’t really seen that in Samoa where you cross all the constituencies, you have a kind of platform, you have policies announced and you have a strong leader and so I think we don’t know how that plays in Samoa until really today," he said.