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ANALYSIS: Fiji Scores 8 Out Of 10 In Election Assessment

ANALYSIS: Fiji Scores 8 Out Of 10 In Election Assessment
Fijian Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem (left), and interim regional director Asia-Pacific of International IDEA Andrew Ellis after the signing of the MOU. Photo: Sheetal Prasad
August 01
09:28 2015

Participating countries ended a democracy and elections workshop in Nadi yesterday with a fair idea on how they rate themselves.

The preliminary draft used for discussion purpose showed Fiji scored 0.6 out of 1, one of the highest scores. That score was determined based on information the Swedish researchers found online which we all know is limited in terms of details and depth.

The score will undoubtedly improve after Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem and his team had submitted their report.

Mr Saneem alluded to this in his opening address at the workshop at the Tanoa International in Nadi on Thursday. The workshop, which ended yesterday, was conducted by the International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) and Varieties of Democracies (V-Dem).  Any reliable and accurate assessment of  the electoral process in a democracy is best done in the respective country by qualified people. It will take into account local conditions  and the reality on the ground.

With all things considered, I would give Fiji a rating of 0.8 out of 1 or 8 out of 10  for last year’s general election and the continuing effort to consolidate our young democracy.

Some might say I am too generous.

These are the reasons I give Fiji that high score.

– Given the timeframe to prepare for the election, it was an outstanding effort. The final outcome had success printed all over it. There was a clear winner and the Multinational Observer Group gave its stamp of approval.

– To get the full 10 we need to implement the changes recommended by the MOG which includes pre-polling. MOG recommended that ‘Pre-polling’ should be re-named ‘early voting’.

Pre-polling locations should be determined earlier, and local officials should be consulted in their selection.

– Information on timing and locations for polling should reach all voters, with special efforts made for voters in remote locations.

The unprecedented high turnout by voters gave the poll its electoral integrity

– Apart from complaints from the Opposition it was a smooth election given it is our first.

– The registration of high school students reaching the voting age was a major achievement. It’s now an on-going process so we can expect a better and higher participation by the young generation in the 2018 general election.

A major achievement was reached yesterday when the memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the FEO and the  International IDEA and V-Dem. This means that Fiji can access technical assistance and disputes resolution  knowledge, international research and contacts.

We will also join other democracies in an international ranking that will put us on the map. This exposure will enhance our integrity and save money.

This is the first MOU for the region and strengthens our position as the hub of the Pacific and raises our profile in Asia and other regions.

Fijian Elections Office is best positioned to take advantage of the help that will be made available.



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