BY Alan Ah Mu
APIA: MONDAY 24 JUNE 2013: From the next general elections at least five seats in Parliament will be occupied by women.
Passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill 2013 this morning made that law.
“It’s a new dawn for women,” Speaker of Parliament, La’auli Leuatea Fosi said.
An outbreak of clapping by MPs greeted passage of the bill.
None of the 44 MPs present in Parliament voted against it.
Opposition party Tautua Samoa Party joined Government to make the amendment law.
It reserves 10 percent of the seats in Parliament for women electoral candidates.
With 49 seats in Parliament this works out to five seats guaranteed for women, to start on the polling day of the next general election.
Under a flexible formula if no woman is elected to Parliament at the next elections, five women candidates who get the highest number of votes will occupy the allocated seats in Parliament.
In such a situation the number of seats in Parliament will be increased to 54 seats.
If less than five women win seats in general elections candidates who secured the most votes will fill the allocated seats.
But if five women candidates win seats in elections, the formula won’t be used – the number of seats in Parliament stays at 49.
If the seat of an elected woman MP becomes vacant, and a man wins the seat in a subsequent by-election, a woman candidate in that by-election with the most votes becomes an MP to ensure the five seats remain occupied.
If there is no woman candidate runs in that by-election a woman MP is chosen from the results of the last by-election or general election.
If two or more women candidates get equal votes the winner will be decided by a lot before the Electoral Commissioner in the presence of the candidates or their authorised representatives and at least two police officers.
No two women candidates from the same constituency may become an MP unless no other women candidate exists to make up the prescribed number of women MPs.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said since Independence the most number of women MPs in a Parliament was four – achieved in the previous term.
After the last general election in 2011, the number dropped to two.
The world has changed and mothers have achieved advanced expertise gifted them by God which should be used to benefit the country, Tuilaepa said.