Conclusion

Political stability has been a feature of the HRPP regime, which began in 1982, when it first became the government, until the present. Several factors have contributed to this state of affairs. The existence of a still vibrant indigenous sociopolitical system alongside Samoa’s introduced liberal democratic system adopted before independence in 1962 means that Samoans will always revert to their indigenous political system in difficult political situations as the only means by which to check political dominance and what is perceived by the public as abuse of power. Powerless to check the political dominance of the HRPP regime since it first took office in early 1982, the indigenous sociopolitical institutions of Tumua and Pule and 'Äiga organised a series of protest marches against the government in the early 1990s. However, tactful political leadership in a highly sensitive situation in which the TPA protest marches played a determining role averted the possibility of serious violent confrontation between HRPP and anti-HRPP protesters.

Because fa’a Samoa creates obligations between relatives in a country where almost everyone is related, it has the effect of dampening the potential for instability. For example, even though some voters might have been unhappy with the way the HRPP had been running the country, they would not be prepared to have those political sentiments translated into voting out the sitting HRPP MP in their respective constituencies if the MP was a relative of theirs. Respect for others, especially for those of traditional rank, also discourages extremism and instability.

Samoa has been unusually successful, compared with Fiji and Tonga, at blending the modern parliamentary system of representation with cultural tradition. Since 1962, when Samoa became independent, there have not been any major amendments to its constitution. Nor have there been any constitutional crises in Samoa like those that resulted in the Fiji coups of 1987 and 2000, or the continuing constitutional problems of Tonga. Any constitutional amendments in Samoa have been relatively minor and have been achieved through constitutional, democratic and legal means.

Finally, HRPP’s twofold political strategy of formulating and implementing policies that have helped keep it united, and changing the rules through legislation introduced in Parliament during its period in office, have contributed to the party’s electoral success. This success, in turn, has led ultimately to the maintenance of political stability in Samoa.