Home » Uncategorized » Under an open list proportional representation voting system, which Fiji’s new constitution endorsed, it is difficult for one party to win an absolute majority and coalition governments are the norm. Warning….Frank does not play well with others!

Under an open list proportional representation voting system, which Fiji’s new constitution endorsed, it is difficult for one party to win an absolute majority and coalition governments are the norm. Warning….Frank does not play well with others!

Fiji: An election in 2014 and Bainimarama will stand

21 January 2014 4:04p.m.

In what may be the clearest sign yet that Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama (pictured) intends to make good on his promise to hold elections in 2014, he has announced that he will resign as head of the military on 28 February and stand for election.

Bainimarama has promised that his political party, the details of which he will announce on 1 March, will deliver. He has that the party he forms will be standing on the record of delivering basic services.

While Fiji’s new Electoral Act has yet to be enacted, four other parties have registered to participate in the elections, which are expected to take place in September. Many commentators believe Bainimarama is confident of electoral victory and hence made this most recent announcement. He told soldiers during a parade on Monday that it was important people chose their government representatives sensibly, and said voters should be wary of politicians who had their own agendas, implying that voting for him would be a wise choice.

In other countries that use a single national constituency and/or open list proportional representation voting system, which Fiji’s new constitution endorsed, it is difficult for one party to win an absolute majority and coalition governments are the norm. Bainimarama has spent the last seven years governing on his own terms. Whether he has the negotiating and coalition-forming skills of an Angela Merkel or a Benjamin Netanyahu is yet to be seen.

Bainimarama might take heart from this end of year survey by Gallup International. The results showed that 70% of Fijians thought 2014 will be better than 2013, 62% thought this year will be a year of economic prosperity and 88% personally felt happy about their lives. The survey was a universal one and did not test what Fijians thought about their prime minister but Bainimarama would be pleased that Fijians expressed so much confidence about their country in 2014 and would hope to convert this into votes for him and his party. By comparison, the same survey indicated that only 39% of Australians thought 2014 would be better than 2013; just 17% believed this year would be one of economic prosperity, while 32% predicted economic difficulty and 43% said it would be the same as 2013; and only 53% personally felt happy about their lives.

If Bainimarama follows through on his intentions, it creates a slight opening for Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to pursue her promised change of course to Australia’s Fiji policy. In opposition, Bishop said a Coalition government would prioritise the normalisation of relations with Fiji. As Minister she has been more circumspect in public about any major changes to Australia’s Fiji policy. But Bishop did meet with Fiji Foreign Minister Kubuabola, and has conferred with New Zealand Foreign Minister McCully on the path ahead. She has signaled that confirmation of an election date would be significant in her thinking about future shifts in policy.

Interestingly, Bainimarama’s official Twitter account announced yesterday that the Australian High Commission would be inviting him to attend Australia Day celebrations. His advisers clearly believe this to be something of a breakthrough, signaling that improving relations with Australia may be more important to Bainimarama than he has previously indicated.

It will be tempting for Canberra to proceed cautiously where Bainimarama is concerned and prior experience shows that such caution is warranted. But waiting until after the election to change course in Fiji policy risks a continuation of the high level bilateral impasse. Bainimarama, if he is to win government, may choose to punish Australia for its isolation of him since 2006. This could in turn create difficulties in Australia’s relations with the region as an elected Prime Minister Bainimarama will seek to attract the early support of Pacific Island countries.

Early normalisation of relations is unlikely, but Bainimarama’s decision to stand down allows Bishop to consider initiating a conversation with him about his plans for the election. Once Bainimarama is officially a candidate, the Foreign Minister could speak to all the leading candidates (even if only by telephone) about Australia’s commitment to provide support for elections. While this work would normally best be done by diplomats, Australia needs to widen its political conversation with Fiji now if the Abbott Government intends to expand relations after the elections.

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11 thoughts on “Under an open list proportional representation voting system, which Fiji’s new constitution endorsed, it is difficult for one party to win an absolute majority and coalition governments are the norm. Warning….Frank does not play well with others!

  1. Bainimarama is a man who cannot be trusted
    I don’t know what kind of diplomacy is the best kind of diplomacy to deploy with such a man.
    IT would best for the country if we did not have such a man as a leader
    But in the real world when you have gun power you can call the shots
    This untrustworthy man has been calling the shots in Fiji for over 7 years and Australia and other international players have been able to do sweet bugger all.
    He is now organizing the elections according to his rules and his men at the helm
    Is that the way for a return to democracy
    With the dictator leading the way?
    what a farce!

  2. VB my man – Fiji’s best ever PM.

    Fiji thanks you VB my man for giving us a more prosperous and happy future.

    We believe in you.

    We believe that you will think of everyone in this country. As for the iTaukei – we believe you have some plans for them in future for we know that looking after their interests and traditions are also very important to this great nation. As for the Fiji Indians – we believe you too also have some plans for them in uplifting their standards of living. So does our belief for all the different races of this nation.

    We believe that you have Fiji at heart and Fiji must first start from a rock solid foundation of love and respect for one another prior to addressing specific needs of each segment of society.

    VB my man – Fiji will vote for you.

  3. @Nabua Prince
    the last time Fiji had an election your man VB tried to influence Fijian voters by sending out his military men to campaign all around the country.
    The voters – the people – rejected him.
    then he did a coup to grab power.
    what will happen if your man again gets rejected by the voters?

  4. Hahahahaha ……………….. you bunch of losers!

    VB my man will win.

    Expect this result in September 2014 when Fiji completes this fair and one day Elections.

    Fiji needs a leader who can unite us and move everyone together safely forward to calm waters.

    VB my man is the only leader capable of doing this.

    Vinaka VB.

  5. This article by Jenny Hayward Jones is merely explaining the impact of vote buying tactics by the junta. Not surprising the figures quoted from the Gallup International survey reflect just that. Its normal to expect high support for Bainimarama for the way he has wooed the Fiji public but we are all clear about what happened to Rabuka at an election when his rating was high.

    Surveys simply give you statistics but don’t offer explanations about those statistics. It allows us to draw own conclusions and Jones is trying to do that here. But one would be reminded of the fate of a former Fiji PM at a time when his rating was high. He was ceremoniously dumped by the people! That record proves that roads, water supply, schools and health clinics can buy gratitude but not loyalty. Jones is also oversimplifying the matter by suggesting that the high support for Bainimarama indicated in the Gallup International survey is good enough reason to start normalizing relationship with Canberra. I presume Julie Bishop would be more cautious about this because of the unpredictable character who now wants to stand in a stage-managed election that has contravened all principles of a free and fair poll.

    Lets be reminded that the man now standing to contest the polls is the same man that overthrew government illegally and the same man that sanctioned the torture and death of citizens. He is also the same man that leads the looting of government coffers and the destruction of national institutions. He is the man who is selling Fiji’s overseas assets to fill the black hole he created in the budget, and he is also the man who turned away from Fiji’s traditional allies for the sake of funding his own selfish schemes. These are just few example of facts that do not surface in the Gallup International survey statistics but are very much clear in the minds and hearts of the people, so hurrying to normalize relationship with Bainimarama is just as stupid as the man himself! We should all be wise enough now to know that we are just entering another chapter of Fiji’s unstable political journey.

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