ANALYSIS: General Election Best Way To Gauge People’s Views

We cannot rewind the clock and call for new consultations and a nation­al referendum on issues that have already been decided. It would be a waste of time and resources
16 May 2018 11:33
ANALYSIS: General Election Best Way To Gauge People’s Views
People line-up to cast their vote during 2014 General Election at Draiba Primary School. Photo: Ronald KumarFile

We cannot rewind the clock and call for new consultations and a nation­al referendum on issues that have already been decided.

It would be a waste of time and resources af­ter the people spoke with authority on these issues in the 2014 General Eelection.

The outcome of that election was emphatic.

The general election still remains the best way to gauge people’s position on issues.

If they were unhappy with the Constitution, they would have voted against its architects, the FijiFirst Party, in 2014.

Instead, they overwhelmingly gave the par­ty the mandate to run the Government for four years. That term is about to end and Fiji­First will return to the people to give it a new mandate soon in the 2018 General Election.

If the people are happy with its perfor­mance then they will vote it back to power, otherwise they will pick another party.

So voters will again decide whether all the issues that have been raised during these four years would be part of this second elec­tion – not the politicians.

Some of these issues, like anti-Constitution comments, opposition to Fijian as a com­mon name, secular state and Great Council of Chiefs, have become irrelevant as people have moved on and found more worthwhile and meaningful pursuits in life.

But some Opposition politicians are still pressing on obviously unaware that a major­ity of people have more important issues to talk about – issues that affect them directly daily.

Apart from the general election, there are other frequent periodic polls conducted by private organisations, like the Fiji Sun-Razor opinion poll.

These polls give an idea of what people are thinking about at any point in time.

There have been a lot of response to the Fiji Sun-Razor opinion polls.

Those who reacted were selective in their response such as Ben Padarath, son of La­vinia Padarath, who is the president of the Fiji Labour Party and a provisional election candidate. He posted on Facebook his delight at seeing FLP overtaking the National Feder­ation Party in third place after FijiFirst and SODELPA in the latest Fiji Sun-Razor poll. When someone asked him whether he en­dorsed the poll, he said he was only respond­ing to the party standing chart.

People need to understand that the polls do not try to forecast the final result.

The polls are a snapshot and reflect the vot­ers’ stand on issues at a given time.

They can change from week to week.

In 2014, however, the Fiji Sun-Razor polls were so consistent that the final outcome re­flected it.

FijiFirst led all the way to the finish line.

The tussle between Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and SODELPA leader Siti­veni Rabuka in the current Fiji Sun-Razor poll is an interesting one.

When the poll started Ro Teimumu was well ahead. Mr Rabuka caught up and took the lead. In the latest poll, Ro Teimumu is back in front.

For the first time, the Fiji Labour Party has beaten the National Federation Party to claim third place.

These polls – love them or loathe them – play an important role and are a valuable public service.

Too often the polls are misunderstood and misrepresented by commentators, activists, lobbyists and even the public.

But when they are conducted and inter­preted correctly, polls provide an essential barometer of political opinion.

So if you see the next poll results, you know they could change. But they do give you a sense of direction of where public opinion is moving to.

Smart politicians will take note and make readjustments whenever it is necessary – learning from past mistakes and building for the future.

Foolish politicians will ignore them at their own peril. 2014 is the best pointer.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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