Analysis | Politics

Conservative Right Wing Will Lose More If They Form Breakaway Party

Voters will realise that their votes will be wasted with these small parties which cannot even get into Parliament like Unity Fiji, Fiji Labour Party. PDP and HOPE have gone quiet. It’s the reason why Unity Fiji leader Savenaca Narubel is advocating for all Opposition parties to form a single big party If they want to defeat FijiFirst.
21 Jul 2020 10:17
Conservative Right Wing Will Lose More If They Form Breakaway Party
L-R: Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka, Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya, Unity Fiji leader Savenaca Narube.

Analysis:

The show of strength by the conservative right-wing MPs in last Friday’s testy SODELPA Opposition caucus meeting is indicative of their relentless pursuit to regain power and control of the party.

They are building up to another showdown on Saturday st the Special General Meeting against the moderates who have taken over party headquarters and run the administration.

They raised the stakes when they called for a confidence vote for their knight in shining armour caretaker party leader and Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Although they lost their bid to oust Lynda Tabuya as the Whip, the Rabuka vote (20 out of 21 MPs voted to support him) is their big scalp going into the SGM. They would use it as leverage to recapture the positions they lost to the moderates. The posts of President and Vice Presidents will be up for grabs. Collectively in caucus, they collected the majority of SODELPA votes in the last election and because of this, they feel they need to be playing a bigger role in the party to reflect it.

But if they fail again on Saturday and Mr Rabuka also fails in his second bid for the party leader role they have two options.

One is to swallow their pride, toe the party line and make SODELPA a more credible Opposition and even an alternative Government.

The second option, which is seriously being considered as a last resort, is to form a new political party.

If it happens can they retain their support in the new party? They got into Parliament through the SODELPA brand. It’s highly unlikely that they will carry the same support to the new party.

The biggest example is Lynda Tabuya. After her failure to win a seat on a People’s Democratic Party ticket in 2014 she joined SODELPA with Vijay Singh through a unique deal with Mr Rabuka. She went on to poll the second-highest Number of votes for SODELPA after Mr Rabuka.

The right-wingers are bragging that all eight Vanua Levu candidates won their seats. But when you study the distribution of votes FijiFirst still beat SODELPA in the total number of votes in the North. It basically meant that right-wingers were beaten on their home turf in 2018.

FijiFirst polled 31,073 votes while SODELPA received 30,919 votes.

The right-wingers are likely to lose a substantial number of votes if they form a breakaway party because voters will realise that their votes will be wasted with these small parties which cannot even get into Parliament like Unity Fiji, Fiji Labour Party. PDP and HOPE have gone quiet. It’s the reason why Unity Fiji leader Savenaca Narube is advocating for all Opposition parties to form a single big party If they want to defeat FijiFirst. Mr Narube is an excellent material for Parliament but he cannot win a seat.

One Fiji Party leader Filimoni Vosarogo did not join SODELPA in 2014  but formed his own party. It has suffered the same fate as other smaller parties that have faded into oblivion.

The Viti Vou political movement which is backing the right-wingers will suffer the same fate.

The right-wingers best option is to respect the democratic process and capitalise on the weaknesses of the moderates. They cannot pin all their hopes on Mr Rabuka.

It needs to be understood that the party leader role will be up for review and new appointment by the next General Assembly (annual general meeting) in either October or November.

That will allow the new party leader to prepare for the next General Election. He or she has two years to do it.

To strictly respect the party constitution, Mr Rabuka cannot stand again. But he has announced that he wants to lead the party into the 2022 election. If he is allowed to do it, it can only be done after a constitutional amendment. Otherwise, it will be ultra vires to the party constitution.

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