Samoan Election Promises First Female Prime Minister
For almost 40 years, the same political party had had power in Samoa, but the current election is now in a deadlock, thanks to a group of amazing women, supporting the hopeful first female Prime Minister in Samoa.
Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, is the current leader of the F.A.S.T. or Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi political party (roughly translated to ’Faith in the One True God’), and is a former deputy prime minister. She is matai (high chieftess), and comes from a powerful Samoan lineage: Her father was prime minister from 1959 to 1970 and her mother was a diplomat, educator and politician
Let’s summarise the hot stuff:
- In 2016 there was a 50-seat Parliament – an extra seat was added in order to meet one of the thresholds required by the country’s constitution. Called Article 44 (1A), it requires that a minimum of 10 per cent of parliament’s seats be occupied by women. As a result, two seats were added to ensure there was enough female representation.
- A significant portion of the Samoan economy is traditionally based on remittances, though that has declined over the past decade.
- A renewed diaspora campaign led by Samoan women breathed life into the F.A.S.T. party, currently making the election a deadlock—each political party holds 26 seats.
- The election comes down to three bills that were introduced in the Fono (Parliment). These bills each address the three most important parts of Samoan society: customary lands, the traditional institutions of ‘Aiga (family) and the traditional institution of the matai (cuture).
- If elected, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa will be the first female Prime Minister in Samoa. (the incumbent male party leader is playing dirty by spreading rumours – Fiame’s classy response is here.) (And let’s be honest, I love that her middle name is Naomi because of the religious significance and history of the biblical Naomi.)
A little more than 7% of the Samoan population is LDS; the church is a party of most community activities, such as reported here. The F.A.S.T. party holds a weekly (religious) fast each Saturday. Feel free to join in! Last week’s is here.
The election has yet to be announced, but keep your eyes open for news on this magnificent woman!