Analysis | Politics

Why The Merger Of All Opposition Parties Remains An Elusive Dream

Without a single party, they have to have a working arrangement to ensure that they do not split the votes in favour of FijiFirst. This includes after the election when they can coalesce to form a Government.
14 Jul 2020 13:49
Why The Merger Of All Opposition Parties Remains An Elusive Dream
Opposition Members of Parliament, (front, from left) Mosese Bulitavu, Vilame Gavoka and Biman Prasad in Opposition Chambers after walking out of Parliament on February 18, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Analysis:

Savenaca Narube is right.

The Unity Fiji Party leader believes that all political parties that are not currently in government should form a single party to contest the 2022 general election.

He says this means that the election becomes a two-party race and provides a stronger platform needed to try to topple the FijiFirst Government.

He has heard the increasing voice of the people demanding that Opposition parties unite.

But a single party will remain an elusive dream for some time – certainly not before 2022.

This is why. The older established parties, the National Federation Party and the Fiji Labour Party, will find it difficult to dissolve themselves because of their history and heritage.

The NFP, the country’s oldest party, was formed 52 years ago through the merger of the Federation Party and National Democratic Party.

The Federation Party was born in the sugarcane belt.

It’s president, the late A D Patel and vice-president the late Siddiq Koya went on to lead the NFP into constitutional talks in London before Fiji gained its Independence in 1970.

Their advocacy for a common roll (one person one vote) in our electoral system became a reality in 2013 when our new Constitution was enacted paving the way for the first truly democratic elections the following year.

The NFP should thank FijiFirst for it.

It recorded a historic victory in the 1977 election but could not form a government because of internal bickering.

It eventually succumbed to an acrimonious split on religious lines between the Dove and the Flower factions.

The FLP was launched in July 1985 backed by the labour movement that included civil servants and teachers disillusioned by the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara’s  Alliance Government’s response time to their demand for better pay and working conditions.

Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry is one of the founders. A major highlight for the two parties when they formed a coalition that defeated the Alliance Government in the April 1987 election.

Mr Chaudhry became the first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister when FLP won the 1999 election in a landslide victory.

For both parties, their history is part of the national treasure which cannot be erased.

Mr Chaudhry’s response to a merger into one single party says it all. He says they are distinct political parties and it would be hard to merge into one party. But there could co-operation as long as the policies are the same.

SODELPA will not merge into one party and would prefer other parties coming to join it under its banner because of its grassroots support.

Without a single party, they have to have a working arrangement to ensure that they do not split the votes in favour of FijiFirst. This includes after the election when they can coalesce to form a Government.

Otherwise, defeating FijiFirst would be even more difficult

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