Samoa - Political parties

Technically, candidates for public office campaign as individuals, but political parties are becoming increasingly important. The Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) was founded in 1979 as an opposition party to the government of Prime Minister Tupuola Efi. Tupuola's followers, although not yet formally organized, had, in effect, constituted the ruling party. Following the elections of 27 February 1982, the HRPP was able to command 23 votes in the Fono, as compared with 22 for Tupuola's party. The HRPP leader, Va'ai Kolone, was chosen as prime minister, but in September the Supreme Court, upholding charges of electoral fraud, voided the election of two HRPP candidates, including the prime minister himself. Tupuola was then named prime minister, but by-election victories soon restored the HRPP majority in the Fono, and in December his government fell. On 30 December 1982, Tofilau Eti, the new HRPP leader, was chosen prime minister. He remained prime minister following the February 1985 elections, in which the HRPP captured 31 of the 47 seats, but resigned that December after his budget failed to win approval and the head of state refused to call new elections. In January 1986, a new coalition government led by Va'ai Kolone was formed.

Tofilau Eti, leader of the HRPP, was reelected prime minister in April 1988 as the result of a contested election that was settled by a judge flown in from New Zealand. A gradual deterioration in the bilateral relationship between Samoa and New Zealand continued with a dispute concerning the special immigration quota applied to Samoans. In October 1990 a referendum on the issue of universal suffrage narrowly passed. A proposal to establish an upper legislative chamber composed of traditional chiefs failed. In a general election held in April 1991 the ruling HRPP won 28 of 47 seats in the Fono, and Tofilau was reelected prime minister. Among the new ministers appointed was Fiame Naomi, the first female cabinet member, as minister of education, youth, sports and culture, and labor. Polling was again held 26 April 1996, and Tofilau Eti remained prime minister. Tuila'epa Sailelel Malielegaoi became prime minister in November 1998 as a result of the resignation of Tofilau due to ill health. He was elected prime minister in March 2001, with the HRPP taking 24 seats in the Fono; after 4 by-elections, the HRPP held 30 seats. In the 2001 elections, the Samoan National Development Party took 13 seats, and the Samoa United People's Party took 1 seat. Independents held 11 seats.

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