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Analysis: NFP May Fill Role As Power Broker After Poll. Just Maybe

Analysis: NFP May Fill  Role As Power Broker After  Poll. Just Maybe
August 03
11:02 2018

The National Federation Party (NFP) is rebuilding and some are hoping it could become a power broker in Fijian politics.

There is talk about it holding the balance of power after the elections.

Winning the election is realistically not possible at this stage.

Holding the balance of power is only possible if election results are so close that it’s impossible for one party to govern alone unless it forms a post-election coalition of like-minded political parties.

In such a scenario NFP leader Biman Prasad could become the Winston Peters of Fiji if he plays his cards right. Forget about winning the election outright.

That’s mission impossible in 2018 but cobbling a coalition after the election looks like a possible scenario for Mr Prasad.

Mr Peters, the New Zealand First Party leader, is well known as  the power broker in NZ politics.

He has held the balance of power in two previous elections prior to his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs in Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Cabinet.

In the 1996 NZ election Mr Peters formed a coalition with National, securing the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer.

In 2005 he went into coalition with the Labour Party serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Peters was Acting PM while Ms Ardern was on a six-week maternity leave after giving birth to her first child. She resumed office yesterday.

Mr Prasad is calling for an election now because it appears at this stage that it is slipping away from their grasp.

Last week’s Fiji Sun-Razor Poll indicated that if the election was held now, the NFP would only retain its three seats.

It would hope that SODELPA would win a minimum of 23 seats.

That would give an NFP-SODELPA coalition a  one-seat majority in the 51-seat Parliament.

But last week’s poll saw SODELPA drop from 15 seats to 12 seats.

NFP would also hope that the Fiji Labour Party, Unity Fiji and HOPE Party would pick up a seat each.

That would pave the way for a post-election grand coalition that was originally mooted by some in the Opposition.

There is no indication right now that FLP, Unity Fiji and HOPE would come close to winning a seat. What they would do is split up the votes making it harder for NFP and SODELPA to achieve their targets.

FijiFirst would benefit more with more parties contesting the election.

The talk about balance of power and coalition is always at the back of the mind of Opposition politicians.

They realise, although they seldom admit it, that it’s difficult to match FijiFirst Government’s performance.

This is why some of them resort to gutter level politics like the use of race and religion in their campaigns.

This is old politics and it has been revisited by desperate politicians who have run out of ideas to counter FijiFirst.

Some NFP candidates have been accused of engaging in this kind of dirty politics.

It is the kind of politics that split the NFP into two factions, the Flower led by Jai Ram Reddy and the Dove led by the late Siddiq Koya in 1977.

If the party is not careful it would come back to haunt it and there would be no coalition hope at all.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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