Politics of American Samoa

Politics of American Samoa
American Samoa

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Politics and government of
American Samoa

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Politics of American Samoa takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. American Samoa is an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior. Its constitution was ratified 1966 and came into effect 1967. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the legislature. The party system is a copy of the United States party system. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

There is also the traditional village politics of the Samoa Islands, the "faamatai" and the "faasamoa", which continues in American Samoa and in independent Samoa, and which interacts across these current boundaries. The Fa'asamoa is the language and customs, and the Fa'amatai the protocols of the "fono" (council) and the chiefly system. The Fa'amatai and the Fono take place at all levels of the Samoan body politic, from the family, to the village, to the region, to national matters. The "matai" (chiefs) are elected by consensus within the fono of the extended family and village(s) concerned. The matai and the fono (which is itself made of matai) decide on distribution of family exchanges and tenancy of communal lands. The majority of lands in American Samoa and independent Samoa are communal. A matai can represent a small family group or a great extended family that reaches across islands, and to both American Samoa and independent Samoa.



The United States Congress, in the joint resolution of February 20, 1929, 45 Stat. 1253, provided that (until the Congress shall provide for the Government of the islands of American Samoa) all civil, judicial, and military powers shall be vested in such person or persons and exercised in such manner as the President of the United States shall direct. In Executive Order 10264, the President of the United States directed that the Secretary of the Interior should take such action as may be necessary and appropriate for the administration of civil government in American Samoa. The Secretary of the Interior promulgated the Constitution of American Samoa which was approved by a Constitutional Convention of the people of American Samoa and a majority of the voters of American Samoa voting at the 1966 election, and came into effect in 1967.

The government operates under a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor of American Samoa is the head of government. Legislative power is vested in the American Samoa Fono. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Executive branch

The power of the executive is formally vested The governor and the lieutenant governor are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms.

Legislative branch

The Legislature, or Fono, has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 18 members, elected for a two year term, 17 in single-seat constituencies and one by a public meeting on Swain Island. The Senate also has 18 members, elected for a four year term by and from the chiefs of the islands.

Judicial branch

The High Court of American Samoa is the highest court below the United States Supreme Court in American Samoa, with the District Courts below it. The High Court is located in the capital of Pago Pago. It consists of a Chief Justice and an Associate Justice, appointed by the United States Secretary of the Interior.

Political parties and elections

An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in American Samoa.
e • d Summary of the 2 November and 16 November 2004 American Samoa Governor election results
Candidates % 1st round % 2nd round
Togiola Tulafono 48.4 55.7
Afoa Moega Lutu 39.4 44.3
Others 12.2 -
Total 100.0 100.0
Source: Samoanews.com and Rulers
e • d Summary of the 7 November 2006 American Samoa House of Representatives election results
Parties Votes % Representatives
Non-partisans   20
nonvoting delegate from Swains Island   1
Total (turnout  %)   21
e • d Summary of the 2 November 2004 American Samoa Senate election results
Parties Senators
Senators elected by local chiefs 18
Total (turnout  %) 18

At the 2 November 2004 election Eni F. H. Faleomavaega of the Democratic Party (United States) defeated the Republican candidate and was re-elected.

International organization participation

ESCAP (associate), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, SPC

See also


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