DP73 Samoan election results: trends and patterns 1964–2016

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 73

By Terence Wood and Sachini Muller,

October 2018

This paper draws on data from the new Samoa Election Results database to highlight salient features and trends in Samoa’s electoral history. It reports on results for all national general elections since independence. It looks at votes and voter turnout, candidate numbers, winning candidate vote shares, incumbent turnover, parliamentary longevity, parties and women candidates. One central finding is an absence of strong trends in many electoral features. This is surprising given the major change to formal electoral rules that occurred with the extension of the franchise in Samoa in 1991. Another finding is that there is considerable variation in key electoral statistics between different Samoan electorates and in the same electorates over time. As electoral statistics are described, the paper makes comparisons between Samoa and Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (two other Pacific countries for which similar election results databases exist). There are clear contrasts in some areas – most notably, differences in candidate numbers and party numbers. Yet there are also similarities, including high incumbent turnover rates, and under-representation of women in parliament.

Note: Figure 3 of this version of the paper was modified in October 2021.

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Wood, T. & Muller, S. 2018, ‘Samoan election results: trends and patterns 1964–2016’, Discussion Paper No. 73, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra.

Terence Wood

Terence Wood is a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre. His research focuses on political governance in Western Melanesia, and Australian and New Zealand aid.

Sachini Muller

Sachini Muller was a Research Officer at the Development Policy Centre. She is currently completing a Master of Globalisation at ANU.