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The people's choice

Avinesh Gopal
Friday, June 13, 2014

THE much-anticipated general election is nearing.

Ironically, if all elected governments were given the chance to hold power for their five-year term after the 1987 general election as mandated by the people, then Fiji would have had elections in 2012.

The September 17 General Election will be held under the 2013 Constitution, which appears to be more advanced than the earlier traditionally adopted ones and recognises key social rights including housing, sanitation, health and education. Politically it protects rights and resources.

From 71 seats, Parliament has now been reduced to 50 seats and the Senate removed, meaning a reduction in overall budget and parliamentarians given a wider responsibility in terms of serving people and attending to parliamentary and ministerial duties.

Political parties that have registered to battle under the common roll and the proportionate voting system are FijiFirst, SODELPA, FLP, NFP and PDP.

FijiFirst officials have stated and to some extent proved that the provision of services to the ordinary people and having a conducive investment environment are the main priorities of a government.

Holding on to power for the past eight years, party officials have introduced a number of economic, social and political stabilisation policies for the short, medium and long term.

On the other hand, SODELPA is promoting that parallel to an elected government, there is a need to have a recognised traditional institution operating with an aim to indirectly influence economic, social and political policies relating to resources, especially land and sea.

FLP, whose leader was part of the present government for a while, and NFP have no doubt previously enjoyed the votes of Fijians of Indian descent based on the then electoral roll.

The NFP formed a coalition in 1999 with the then SVT party led by Sitiveni Rabuka, who carried out the first coup on May 14, 1987, to contest the general election.

But this coalition did not prove worthwhile for the NFP as it did not win a single seat in the 1999 election and its popularity declined after that.

As far as newcomers PDP is concerned, it is made up of a faction of former staunch FLP supporters, some aspiring politicians and trade unionists.

With four of the political parties vying to oust current Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama and his party from power, the FLP, NFP, PDP have a serious task of forming a coalition with SODELPA to form the next government come September 17.

The Bainimarama regime, on the other hand, has proved to be a powerful government, even though unelected, and has promised to continue improving government services including continued civil service reforms.

But come election day, it is the people who will decide who to vote for — and that decision has to be a wise one for the betterment of Fiji.

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