Overview Ratu Joni’s Views On The Political Parties

JYOTI PRATIBHA NADI Will the National Federation Party continue its decline in the shadow of Mahendra Chaudhry and the Fiji Labour Party or will it be able to remake and
30 Mar 2014 09:09

Will the National Federation Party continue its decline in the shadow of Mahendra Chaudhry and the Fiji Labour Party or will it be able to remake and reposition itself in the emerging political landscape of the months ahead?
This was the question posed at the National Federation Party’s convention by chief guest Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.
Ratu Joni provided a succinct overview of where the registered political parties in Fiji stood at the moment.
“There will be several established parties with the Prime Minister’s as yet to be formed one making additional one, and independents completing the stage,” the former Vice-President of the country said.
“SODELPA is making a play for the iTaukei vote with fellow travellers who feel their interests are best served by allying with them.
“The Prime Minister will stand on his record as the initiator of non-racial political discourse and ‘a common and equal citizenry’ together with the delivery of an impressive range of benefits to our rural communities.
“The Fiji Labour Party will tap Mr Chaudhry’s undoubted support in the cane belt as well the remnants of the labour movement which remain faithful to him.
“The People’s Democratic Party is banking on more of that remnant and a portion of the middle class to see it into Parliament.”
Where then does the NFP fit in this scenario?
Ratu Joni feels the challenge is for the NFP to retain or increase its present levels of support in the Indo-Fijian community while attracting voters from other communities.
“I think it would be a mistake to compete with Mr Chaudhry by engaging in the robust, close hand to hand politics of which he is a past master.
“Instead, the NFP ought to focus on those who have remained constant in their belief in the moderate path it has followed over the last decade.”
These include: urban professionals, small business entrepreneurs and some in peri-urban communities.
“To them the message must be the NFP’s willingness to embrace a more inclusive and non-racial type of politics that is more substantial than merely having a iTaukei of renown as President of the Party.”
He also said NFP could move beyond the ‘Indo-Fijian community’ to broaden its support if it wishes to assert its claims as a genuinely multicultural and multiethnic party.
“With youth as with any other targeted audience, the NFP needs to identify with them in order to attract their attention, as a means to securing their support.
“This can only be done by having young people not only as members of the NFP, but being visible as well.”
Ratu Joni also said if the integrity of the vanua was to be safeguarded, then politics and the vanua must run their separate courses.
“This does not prevent chiefs from participating in politics, but where they chose to do so, they commit themselves and not their vanua. The loyalty of an iTaukei to his/her vanua is not synonymous with his /her political right to support the party of their choice.
“The vanua is in a real sense above politics, because it is outside it representing all the contradictions, complexities and characteristics of what it means to be iTaukei. This environment provides potential for recruitment.”

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