Monday, May 17, 2021

Samoa is still a democracy

Last month Samoa went to the polls, and gave their authoritarian Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi a solid kick in the nuts, delivering a hung parliament with an independent as kingmaker. In a desperate attempt to cling to power, Malielegaoi had the Electoral Commission appoint a new MP under the women's quota (which required that 10% of MPs be women) to ensure a deadlock, then had the O le Ao o le Malo revoke the election and call a re-run before parliament had even had a chance to meet to sort things out. But today, both those decisions were declared unconstitutional by Samoa's Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court has overruled a declaration by the Head of State voiding last month's elections as having no legal authority.

The court has reinstated the results from April's election and ordered Parliament to convene within 45 days from the 9 April polling day.

Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese handed down the decision of a panel of Justices decision on Monday afternoon.

The parliamentary numbers are still effectively deadlocked - FAST will be able to appoint a Speaker, but won't have an overall majority. And there are still electoral petitions to sort out, which could further change the balance of power. But those are problems for the politicians to point out (ironicly, the HRPP's vicious attempts to use anti-party-hopping laws to crush the opposition and prevent the formation of new political parties makes this situation harder to resolve). Democracy has been restored, and it has been made clear that the government cannot void an election and call another simply because they don't like the results. As for the caretaker PM and head of state who committed that constitutional outrage, I hope they will both resign. Because clearly, they have no place in a democratic state.