On Friday 4 March 2016, Samoa conducted its 15th general election since independence in 1962. The 2016 general election was particularly significant because of three key constitutional or electoral amendments enacted during the election cycle, namely the Constitutional Amendment Act 2013, the Electoral Amendment Act 2014 and the Electoral Amendment Act 2015. The amendments reconfigured the electoral landscape by introducing a parliamentary gender quota; restricting the conduct of o’o or momoli — presentations of money, food and gifts (typically traditional fine mats and tapa cloth) to a village or villages within a constituency by a candidate to announce their intention to run; and dividing the six dual-member constituencies into 12 single-member constituencies, such that all constituencies are now single-member constituencies.
With the approval of the Samoan Cabinet and Office of the Electoral Commissioner (SOEC), academics from the ANU and the National University of Samoa (NUS) observed the elections in partnership with the SOEC and local civil society organisations. The key findings arising from these observations are contained within this report.