Democratisation and Electoral Trends in Samoa

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Author/s (editor/s):

Terence Wood, Roannie Ng Shiu, Jack Corbett

Publication year:

2014

Publication type:

In Brief

In 1990, the Samoa passed legislation broadening its electoral franchise. Before this, only matai (heads of extended family groupings) had been allowed to vote; from the 1991 general election, the franchise was extended to all registered adult citizens (So'o 2001). As a result, more than four times as many ballots were cast in 1991 than in 1988. Franchise expansion also brought qualitative change in who could vote — because matai are more commonly men, post-1991 there were many more women voters, for example (So'o and Fraenkel 2005). Yet surprisingly, given the magnitude of the change in this key input into Samoan electoral politics, there is little evidence of commensurate changes in electoral outcomes. Figures 1, 2 and 3 come from the Pacific Politics Database, currently being compiled by SSGM in conjunction with other researchers.

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