Politics of Samoa

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Politics and government of

Politics of Samoa takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic state whereby the Prime Minister of Samoa is the head of government. Existing alongside the country's Western styled political system is the fa'amatai chiefly system of socio-political governance and organisation, central to understanding Samoa's political system.

From the country's independence in 1962, only matai could vote and stand as candidates in elections to parliament. In 1990, the voting system was changed by the Electoral Amendment Act which introduced universal suffrage. However, the right to stand for elections remains with matai title holders. Therefore, in the 49-seat parliament, all 47 Samoan Members of Parliament are also matai, performing dual roles as chiefs and modern politicians, with the exception of the two seats reserved for non-Samoans.[1] At the local level, much of the country's civil and criminal matters are dealt with by some 360 village chief councils, Fono o Matai, according to traditional law, a practice further strengthened by the 1990 Village Fono Law.[2]

The national government (malo) generally controls the legislative assembly as it is formed from the party which controls the majority seats in the assembly. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the assembly, but the government generally controls legislation through its weight of numbers in the Fono. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.


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