The latest twist in the Samoan elections is fascinating. Here’s the sequence of events to date:
- HRPP Party has governed since 1982 and the PM has governed since 1998. They have become more authoritarian over time
- In response to proposed constitutional amendments the FAST Party was set up in July 2020 and in March 2021 the former HRPP Deputy PM became the FAST Leader.
- In the April 2021 election HRPP candidates got 55% of the vote and FAST got 37%. However both HRPP and FAST got 25 seats each due to vote splitting. HRPP is used to being unchallenged in many electorates so they stand multiple candidates to allow the electorate a “choice”. This allowed the sole FAST candidates to win many seats with a plurality.
- Five of the 51 MPs were women which is 9.8% of Parliament. The Constitution required 10% to be women and the Electoral Commission announced an additional female MP from HRPP.
- There was one independent MP elected who then announced he would support FAST which gave both parties 26 MPs each.
- The Head of State voided the elections due to the deadlock and called new elections for 21 May. This was opposed by FAST.
- The Supreme Court has today unanimously found the appointment of the additional MP unconstitutional which means Parliament is now HRPP 25 and FAST 26
- The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the legality of the Head of State voiding the April election and calling new ones for May.
- There are also 28 electoral petitions to be heard
The best case scenario is the new elections are cancelled and FAST forms a Government with a 26/51 majority.
If new elections go ahead, then I expect HRPP will win a majority as they have withdrawn candidates from seats they lost in, so they have only one candidate per seat.
The worst case scenario is HRPP tries to subvert the constitution and sacks the Supreme Court or the like, in an attempt to cling on.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court has also just the new set of elections called by the Head of State are to be cancelled.