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Analysis: Who Are The Number 2s?

They are the deputies, the number twos in the political parties. As we move closer to the 2018 General Election, some have emerged as a strong pillar the party leader
26 Aug 2017 10:26
Analysis: Who Are The Number 2s?

They are the deputies, the number twos in the political parties.

As we move closer to the 2018 General Election, some have emerged as a strong pillar the party leader can lean on.

In the FijiFirst party, there is no dispute.

The clear and accomplished number two is Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy.

Pio Tikoduadua is emerging as the number two for the National Federation Party.

For SODELPA, the likely candidates for number two are sitting MPs Niko Nawaikula and Aseri Radrodro.

In Fijian elections, personalities and not parties will influence the way voting goes, says English-based BMI Research.

It is correct.

It is backed by the Fiji Sun’s first monthly poll for the 2018 General Election conducted by Razor in July, which showed that personalities instead of the parties, would appeal to voters more. Razor is the same group that correctly predicted the outcome of the 2014 General Election.

The first 2018 poll results, published in the Fiji Sun, showed Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama scored 59 per cent as the preferred leader of Fiji.

He was followed by Ro Teimumu Kepa at 14 per cent and Sitiveni Rabuka at 13 per cent.

National Federation Party’s Biman Prasad scored 2 per cent as a leader.

The focus is on the three parties at this point because if an election was to be held today they would be the only three parties that would win seats.

So how do the Number Twos of the three major parties rate?

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s number two position is firmly established.

He was there with Mr Bainimarama in the beginning of FijiFirst and is a member of the core group that represents the brains trust of the party.

He is one hundred per cent loyal to Mr Bainimarama and the party philosophy of a united Fiji where everyone has equal opportunities and no one is left behind.

In the 2014 General Elections, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum polled 13,753 votes.

Only two other candidates received more votes than him.

They were Mr Bainimarama (202,459 votes) and Ro Teimumu Kepa (49,485 votes).

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s votes put NFP leader Biman Prasad’s 8097 votes to shame.

And when compared to Pio Tikoduadua, the number two in National Federation Party, there is an even larger margin.

Mr Tikoduadua had contested the 2014 General Elections under the Fiji First banner.

He polled a measly 3611 votes, a fraction of what Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had received and had managed to secure a seat in Parliament riding on Mr Bainimarama’s popularity.

Will much change in 2018?

Not much it appears.

In SODELPA, two of the current top performers are Mr Nawaikula and Mr Radrodro.

They are both active members in and outside Parliament.

If they are to award people on merit, then they deserve consideration for the number two position.

And probably one day take over as party leader.

Mr Nawaikula is favoured by his leader outside of Parliament, Mr Rabuka, given their Cakaudrove connection.

Mr Radrodro, is a worthy challenger for number two given his hard work in the electorate.

Recently, he has been spotted holding pocket meetings outside of his province, Naitasiri.

In the last election, Mr Radrodro received 2169 votes.

Mr Nawaikula polled 7348 votes, the majority from his home base.

But those votes are set to split with many preferring Mr Rabuka over Mr Nawaikula.

So how will the number twos of the three major parties fare in the 2018 General Elections?

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum may even get more votes than Mr Rabuka given the split in his popularity, even within SODELPA.

There is really no contest between Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and the other two second in commands from SODELPA and the NFP.

Between Mr Tikoduadua and Mr Nawaikula, it is the latter who will lead the race.

For SODELPA, there is a possible scenario.

If it fails to defeat FijiFirst, Mr Rabuka will automatically lose his party leader position, even if he wins his seat.

The party’s parliamentary caucus will meet to decide its parliamentary leader who is likely to become Leader of the Opposition.

If Mr Rabuka wins the majority votes, then he becomes Leader of the Opposition.

If not, then someone else could be elected.

Mr Radrodro is emerging as a strong contender for party leader and Opposition leader.

He commands the respect of many sitting members of Parliament on the Opposition side.

He is also popular in the electorate.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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