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Analysis: Challenges That Face Parties in Next Four Years

The dust has barely settled after the recent general election when the focus is now turned on the 2022 Poll. Political parties have conducted their reviews and they know exactly
15 Dec 2018 13:24
Analysis: Challenges That Face  Parties in Next Four Years

The dust has barely settled after the recent general election when the focus is now turned on the 2022 Poll.

Political parties have conducted their reviews and they know exactly what they need to do to improve their performance.

 

Here’s how the parties rate:

Fiji Labour Party

It faces a grim future. It has been on the decline since 2014. This once influential political force has lost its way. Primarily, it has lost its core worker and cane farmer support to FijiFirst, SODELPA and National Federation Party.

That support allowed FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry’s rise to power in 1999 and became the country’s first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister.

FLP’s biggest challenge is to regain it if it is to continue to become relevant and survive. To do this it needs a new leader and new strategies.

 

National Federation Party

Flashes of the 1999 election – when it joined Sitiveni Rabuka’s SVT Party in a coalition – continue to haunt the party.

That was why it did not formally go into an arrangement with Mr Rabuka’s SODELPA before the election because it feared a voter backlash similar to its 1999 experience.

The NFP failed to win any seats as its mainly Indo-Fijian supporters rejected the link to Mr Rabuka, who led the country’s first coups in 1987, now Leader of the Opposition.

Despite avoiding any direct link with the outgoing SODELPA leader NFP still fell short of its target of between eight to 10 seats in Parliament although it gained over 6000 more votes compared to the 2014 result.

If it did, it would have formed a coalition government with SODELPA, which won 21 seats.

It would pay a higher price for this failure. Indo-Fijian supporters of the party who rejected Mr Rabuka in 1999, 2014 and 2018 could leave the party for FijiFirst and FLP because they still harbour fears about what happened in 1987 and even 2000. If this happens it could also change the political dynamics within the party as iTaukei voters who backed MPs Pio Tikoduadua and Lenora Qereqeretabua form an influential lobby.

Never in the annals of Parliament has the NFP bench been dominated by iTaukei. If NFP leader Biman Prasad quits Parliament, it will be an all-iTaukei NFP bench.

Like FLP, NFP would have to regroup and redraw its future strategies to address its failure to win more than three seats.

 

SODELPA

The party appears to be on a roll after winning 21 seats and continues to use social media to spread its propaganda. Its campaign to divide the one national electorate to constituencies to simplify work and cut costs worked in its favour.

It concentrated on iTaukei voters particularly those in rural and maritime areas. The pre-polling results from there reflected the success of its campaign. SODELPA had no real opposition to counter its propaganda.

It is expected to continue with this formula.

 

FijiFirst

The two-day meeting at Suvavou House to strategise for the next four years underscores the seriousness in which the FijiFirst Government  had taken the loss of five seats in Parliament to SODELPA.

The unprecedented initiatives the FijiFirst Government rolled out during its first term should have been enough for it to win comfortably.

Instead the election results exposed the party’s campaign weakness in the rural and maritime areas. In several areas they lacked the party’s presence. SODELPA and to a certain extent NFP and Unity Fiji were allowed to spread their propaganda unchallenged in face to face meetings with the villagers.

In the buildup to 2022, FijiFirst needs to introduce more personal contacts with the people through talanoa sessions and getting involved with local community activities. It would need all 27 FijiFirst MPs doing it.

 

Unity Fiji

It has the ability to cement its fourth place standing. Now it has more time to focus on its strengths. It all depends on whether it has the resources to build on its present gains.

 

HOPE

With a lack of resources, particularly finance, HOPE will continue to struggle.

It was amazing how it finished ahead of FLP but below Unity Fiji in the election.

With the way things are at the moment, FLP, Unity Fiji and HOPE and even NFP could join forces to bolster their positions. Otherwise, there could be only two parties seriously contesting the 2022 General Election – FijiFirst and SODELPA.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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