‘Parties won’t split votes’

Voters brave the heavy downpour outside the Waidalice Polling Station in Naitasiri. The Education Ministry has given the green light for schools to be used as polling stations during the last general election in 2014. Picture: FILE

HOPE party leader Tupou Draunidalo does not believe that small opposition parties would split the votes during the 2018 polls.

“There has been much discussion about the splitting of votes in the upcoming elections, that assumes that votes already belong to one, two or three parties,” Ms Draunidalo said.

She said the basic thing about free and fair election was that all voters were free to choose who they wished right up to the time they reached the polling booth to cast their vote.

“Up until that time, their vote is their business and their right. They even have the right to not vote as we no longer have compulsory voting.

“The right to vote is a sacred thing and for the established parties to confidently say that votes belong to them before the vote is cast is rather arrogant and undemocratic.

“It assumes that the voter has no free will or no clear mind. “Or that the voter is unable to change his or her mind at the booth. Or that the voter is not thinking at all.”

She said the world over had been shocked by some recent voting trends especially when the polls had said something else, citing Brexit and Hillary Clinton during the US presidential election.

“But for the sake of necessary repetition for some in the back rows of political evolution — take nothing for granted.

“And do not disrespect the electorate. They always know better.

“They see things more clearly than we the combatants and support teams do. They see things we don’t. Or things that we don’t want to see.

“It would be best if all parties and their support crews respected the rights and free will of voters to choose anyone they like after considering all of the options — right up to when they are at the booth.”

She said convincing the voters to turn up to vote for them was the challenge that was before the eight registered parties.

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