NEWS

Why Unity Plan Will Not Work

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s call for unity among opposition political parties will be difficult to find traction. This is because there are still deep-seated and unresolved differences that need to
24 Dec 2016 11:00
Why Unity Plan Will Not Work
Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa, of SODELPA

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s call for unity among opposition political parties will be difficult to find traction.

This is because there are still deep-seated and unresolved differences that need to be ironed out before co-operation or coalition can work effectively.

Mr Rabuka knows that a coalition is fraught with practical problems that challenge individual party ideologies. It is a mine field

that could explode in their face.

That is why Mr Rabuka is not in favour of it but a co-operation. Even with his preferred option it is not clear how it will work but any arrangement, however, is fraught with danger.

The first big hurdle is the future of the working relationship between SODELPA and the National Federation Party. Under her watch as SODELPA leader, Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa worked tirelessly to strengthen the ties after  she appointed NFP leader Biman Prasad as Opposition Finance spokesperson.

That move was questioned internally by some SODELPA MPs who felt that Aseri Radrodro was the logical candidate given his background as a chartered accountant. SODELPA appears to have recovered from that initial issue.

However, Mr Rabuka’s election as Ro Teimumu’s successor, has strained relations again between the parties. NFP president and suspended MP Roko Tupou Draunidalo has admitted publicly that she has no time for Mr Rabuka for carrying out the first military coup in 1987.

She has put Mr Prasad, who has indicated that his door is open to Mr Rabuka, in a precarious position.

An NFP-SODELPA alliance of any form, by co-operation or coalition could see Ms Draunidalo exiting the NFP because it would be a slap in the face for her. If that happens, it would be a major blow to the NFP which sees her as the face of iTaukei support.

Under Ms Draunidalo, the predominantly Indo-Fijian party is gradually rebuilding its iTaukei base. She is regarded as a valuable member and a crucial figure in the party’s 2018 general election strategic plan. The NFP would have to carefully weigh which one is more important, Ms Draunidalo or Mr Rabuka.

In the 2014 general election, the NFP went into the election alone without any arrangement with SODELPA and won three seats. The Fiji Labour Party openly agreed to work with SODELPA before the election and failed to win a seat.

SODELPA’s policies now going into 2018 general election are expected to change to reflect Mr Rabuka’s multiracial outlook.

In the last election, SODELPA’s pro-indigenous policies were seen as racist because they alienated other ethnic groups.

Mr Rabuka knows that SODELPA cannot defeat the FijiFirst government on its 2014 policies. It needs to broaden its appeal and attract also non-iTaukei by moving in the same direction as FijiFirst on treating everyone equally.

It is not known whether this change will damage SODELPA’s traditional support  which believes in preferential treatment for iTaukei.

FLP, in desperate mode, will join any arrangement for political convenience to win a seat.

The People’s Democratic Party has been dormant since 2014 and could be in a weaker position than it was. The resignation of Adi Sivia Qoro, one of the party pioneers, indicates that the party could be heading into strife.

The NFP remains SODELPA’s best prospect as a partner if it wants to defeat FijiFirst.

But will it?

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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