Can NFP And FijiFirst Recapture Lost Ground? Can SODELPA Build On 2018 Gains?

Which party would voters entrust their lives, livelihoods, families, investments, business, security, confidence and future with?
29 Apr 2019 14:49
Can NFP And FijiFirst Recapture Lost Ground? Can SODELPA Build On 2018 Gains?
Sitiveni Rabuka.

Political Opinion:

Trust is the buzz word as political parties start their preparation for the 2022 General Election

Which party would voters entrust their lives, livelihoods, families, investments, business, security, confidence and future with?

It’s all or nothing.

As we speak their best bet is the FijiFirst Government. But it does not mean that winning the next election is guaranteed?

It still has a lot of work to do to secure a third term in Parliament.

Here’s how the parties are shaping up:

National Federation Party

It’s pretty quiet on the frontline except for the occasional media releases, responding to events and issues.

That’s where it won’t win votes. It needs to get out there and get close to the people frequently. This business of reacting to issues via media releases alone is not enough to lift its public profile.

This applies to all political parties.

Effective messaging is the way to win votes. NFP won a negligible increase in the number of Indo-Fijian votes, but it registered a significant rise in ITaukei votes.

It needs to interact more with voters. This will come through sitting down with voters in a talanoa session format and thrash out the issues. This is prudent advice for all parties.

Many of our folks, particularly those in rural and maritime areas are more receptive to the message in an informal setting. They speak out and tell the truth. The NFP faces a major challenge – to recapture lost Indo-Fijian votes and build on iTaukei votes gained in the election.

Its big challenge is to regain the five seats it lost to SODELPA through the loss of ITaukei votes. It retained its Indo-Fijian support.

The party’s lost ITaukei votes were spread out, but most came from rural and maritime areas.

SODELPA’s propaganda machine took advantage of FijiFirst’s lack of presence in many villages and settlements in the final weeks of the campaign.

It’s predictable that it will use the same strategy in the next election because it worked for the party.

Talanoa sessions in villages and even towns are the most effective forums to engage the voters.

In the last election FijiFirst had the best policies in as far as the people were concerned.

Those policies should have been explained in layman’s terms to the voters in talanoa sessions in villages and settlements. They were ideal opportunities to counter the lies and misinformation spread by the Opposition

But it did not happen and FijiFirst paid the price. That needs to be addressed if it wants to regain the five seats.

It has the best policies. All it requires is for voters to know, understand and embrace them.

In the engagement of iTaukei voters. SODELPA went out and did exactly what was required. Its job was made easier because FijiFirst was not there to challenge it.

Its constituency set-up was effective because it helped the candidates engage with the grassroots people.

Where it became messy was when the party promoted other candidates over the constituency candidates in the last election

This has sparked an internal row after founding member and former MP Mere Samisoni questioned the party strategy. She said it was dirty politics designed to send certain candidates to Parliament at the expense of local candidates.

She said she was one of 10 unsuccessful candidates who were victims of a sinister strategy. When they found out it was too late to do anything. The big challenge for SODELPA is to ride this storm, recover, bounce back and try to upset FijiFirst in the 2022 election.

It all boils down to trust. Are the voters confident of SODELPA’s ability to govern the nation?

The common question: If they can’t be united as a party how they run a government? They will be busy fighting among themselves instead of governing the nation.

June 28 will be D-Day for the party – that’s when it holds its annual general meeting in Savusavu. Many constituencies in Viti Levu are talking about being unable to attend because of the cost.

Whatever happens the people are watching and the party can expect to come under severe public scrutiny.

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