Prof Ratuva: Three-way battle in 2018 general elections

THE 2018 general elections will be a three-way battle between a retired Rear Admiral, a retired Major-General, and a “smart tactician”.
Political sociologist and director at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the MacMillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, Professor Steven Ratuva, has picked Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka and National Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad to battle for the country’s PM’s role this year.
In an interview with The Fiji Times, Prof Ratuva said Mr Bainimarama was a very confident man, seen as a “doer” and responded readily to people’s demands.
He said nationally, the FijiFirst leader had commanded “presidential-type” popularity.
Prof Ratuva said Mr Rabuka was a cool-headed, open-minded, charismatic and articulate leader.
He described Prof Prasad as a leader imbued with vast knowledge of issues, a smart tactician, and effective communicator.
Not ruling out the potential of other parties and its leaders not represented in Parliament, Prof Ratuva said they had their own strengths.
“The political party leaders are all different in terms of personalities, social idiosyncrasies, levels of education, professional acumen and moral dispositions,” he said.
Prof Ratuva said political party leaders also had different visions and styles.
“The critical question is how these leaders can leverage these strengths to mobilise support and win votes.
“This is not as straightforward as it may appear because there are always intervening factors such as voter’s own pre-determined preferences which would make inroads into new territory a challenge.”
He said one of the political paradoxes was that these strengths could also become liabilities as their adversaries would target these and attempt to undermine them tactically.
“It’s all part of the electoral inter-party propaganda war.”
On Mr Bainimarama and Mr Rabuka, Prof Ratuva said their election battle would be interesting since both have been military commanders, coup makers, and prime ministers.
“In many ways, military tactical maneuvering is similar to tactical political electioneering, especially in the art of outwitting your adversary through psychological warfare, manipulating the circumstances to win tactical advantage or just direct assault.”

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