Accepted Paper:

Glocalization of the election system and modernization of Samoa  


Matori Yamamoto (Hosei University)

Paper short abstract:

In order to compromise the indigenous chiefly system and democracy, Western Samoa introduced the chiefly suffrage for its independence. The glocalized election system, however, brought a significant change. This paper is to discuss the Samoan endeavor to glocalize democracy in their society.

Paper long abstract:

The Samoa Islands, in the indigenous political form, had been integrated into several chiefdoms in rivalry before contact with West. After colonial situation, in seeking its independence and the worldwide recognition right after World War II, Western Samoa had to accept democracy, the global standard as a modern state. In its nation building process, Western Samoa adopted a unique suffrage in which only chiefly title holders can vote. The chiefly suffrage was the transitional system adopted by the New Zealand colonial government to prepare Western Samoa for its independence. The Samoan political leaders in those days insisted that since the chiefs were elected within respective kin groups, the chiefly suffrage was based on their indigenous democratic way. Western Samoa proudly achieved the first independence in the South Pacific in 1962. The glocalized election system, the chiefly suffrage, however, ironically brought significant change to the Samoan chiefly system. Because, in order to gain more ballots, Samoan chiefs started to give as many chiefly titles to kin as possible for the election. They gave titles to many youth, women and children who were not suitable for the position in the Samoan indigenous idea. After a long turmoil and many debates, Western Samoa introduced universal suffrage in 1990 and the first new election was executed in 1991. Nevertheless, the story did not end. Independent State of Samoa (present Western Samoa) still needs incessant endeavor to glocalize election system in order to keep up their own local political system in the age of globalization.

Panel P115
The perspective of glocalization: addressing the changing society and culture under globalization