The Rise and Fall of Political Parties

By Mahsood Shah 

Fijian-born Mahsood Shah, originally from Bua, is Principal Adviser Academic Strategy, Planning and Quality at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Shah is also an adjunct with the Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra, Australia. The views in this article are his own and not the views of the University. Email: shah_mahsood@hotmail.com
The year 2014 will determine the future of Fiji’s political landscape.
It will be a critical year in the history of Fiji with future developments yet to be seen.
The current government although unelected has made significant progress with limited financial aid from neighbouring countries.

The policies introduced by the current government have had a big impact on people of all socio-economic classes.

The impact ranges from education, social welfare, tourism, investments, infrastructure development, agriculture, and new diplomatic relations. Government policies have also been felt by many because of a lack of democracy and freedom, the rise in the cost of grocery with inflation rate at 5.5 per cent in 2010 compared to 3.7 per cent in 2009, the increased divide between the rich and the poor, and limited innovative developments in key areas of public service such as health.

The Government has most recently outlined the rules of engagement surrounding the formation of political parties.

It is clear that some dominant parties who have traditionally represented the voice of many poor and middle class people may demise.

The demise is because of a number of factors including leadership of the party and the trust from the general public.

The 2014 election will witness the emergence of few new political parties whose members were part of the dominant party; however individual differences and self-interest has resulted in members forming or joining new parties.

While politicians move around and form or join a new party, it is clear that the product is the same with a different sales pitch.

None of the existing or new parties have outlined their key policies which may attract voters.
This is because of the fact that the current government has not encouraged political campaigns leading towards the 2014 election.

At the same time, many, including the young generation aged between 15-39 who represent almost 50 per cent of the population, are not interested in politics. However they are interested to find out if policies and principles of the party address issues facing our country including:
  • Gender equality;
  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol in our society and its implications;
  • Creation of jobs and employee mobility;
  • The role of trade unions to fight employee rights;
  • Agricultural developments in remote regions and outer islands;
  • Access to national broadband and other technological developments;
  • Modernising public health and other essential services such as transport;
  • Access to education and scholarship in a wide range of disciplinary areas;
  • Renewal of our relationship within the Asia Pacific region, and
  • Issues around climate change and environmental sustainability.
Another important area none of the political parties have focused on in the past is research on contemporary issues facing Pacific Island countries to position Fiji as a leader within the Pacific in research and innovation in tourism, agriculture, mineral resources, marine science, public health, and climate change.

The current and new political parties will be dominant with former members of Parliament who had the opportunity in the past to influence national policies. However, history suggests that most have focussed on self-interest rather than the needs of the broader society.

The focus of politicians has shifted from patriotism to egotism.
As the people of Fiji wait for policy announcement and membership composition of the parties it would be interesting to see if new or existing parties provide opportunities for underrepresented groups such as women and young people to participate in politics.
The 2014 election is very important for the young generation who represent almost 50 per cent of the population and their choice of the party is critical on issues that matters to the young generation.

Maybe it is time for the old horses to rest and give opportunities for interested young people to enter into politics.
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Comments

watis s said…
and if those 'new voices' disagree with the military on some very significant issues?? then what? Crush them with more benevolent rule i suppose?
Anonymous said…
The 'demise' of existing political parties, as you put it, has been caused by the regime , if they were pro regime that would ba different story, and as i recall, the regime at one time or another has co-opted these very people they now spurn to get what they wanted. Didn't they?
Insights into treason said…
Doea Mahsood Shah support the takeover of a legitimately elected government by thugs with guns? Does Mahsood Shah support dictatorships? Does Mahsood Shah support the military regime? Does the university he works for support the destruction of democracy and the rule of law in Fiji? What is more alarming than the article (published in the pro junta Sun) is that such people are employed in Australian Universities. A matter of great concern.
Fiji Man said…
@insights into treason

Fiji was not a true democracy under Qarase, has never been a true democracy, except in a warped sense that allowed Qarase and his AG Qoriniase Bale to sodomise democracy in a pretend democracy. Some people who are squealing now kept quite back then. Many who want the old order to return are really ethnonationalists and supremacists in democratic garb. They want 'democracy' returned because it provides a perfect cover to subjugate and discriminate, and means of power and privilege for an elite group adept at the old colonial practice of divide and rule.

So insights into treason, I hope you now have some insights in democracy, Qarase style.
desmond said…
so is there a guarantee that in Fiji's 'new True democracry' we won't have military intervention again when the 'deomcratically elected government' decided to use their mandate?? This garbage is all about what we will get is the military acting as the manure and beautiful democratic blossoms will be produced, is a joke. The fact is the militray can't stand democratic oversight and weren't even prepared to stick to a budget and be accountable to it, but expect everyone else to fall into line. LOL What is even more bizarre we have the illegal PM going around the country saying we should think happy thoughts and be positive. We, mate lets have free and open debate and allow me to meet who i want and how many i want, and i will talk. But no you are too sh*t scared of that.
%$#@! said…
as has been expressed previously, the indians in fiji will fight for their rights down to the last i-taukei soldier.
Anonymous said…
Always very craven toadying from meople outside the country, eh. Where was Mahshood marching for his rights and fairnees under Qarase, they weren't banned then you know??
Goes around comes around said…
One day those who have supported this i-taukei military junta (particularly the indians) will wake up to the big hole they have actually dug for themselves?
Fiji Man said…
%$#@! and Goes around comes around:

Spoken like true, blue ethnonationalists. I bet you are church-going Christians also. Get over the Indian bogey and smokescreen. Indians are finished for good politically, if ever they were a danger. This is, and always has been, a fight between itaukei elites for wealth and power. You have been so well indoctrinated in your home, churches and schools, and by your political leaders, that you can't see.

All your leaders have to do is mention 'Indian', and you see the cause of all your life's problems materialise before you. It's like waving a red flag at an angry bull. Indians, the ever present scapegoats. Easy and convient targets. Indian bashing is not only irrational, it's self-defeating. With a convenient scapegoat at hand, no need to be introspective or look within self or own community. Especially with leaders flattering us that we are sinless Christians, and heathen Indians are to blame.

Reality: over 100 years of Indian bashing has gained nothing, neither will another 100 years more of it.

No need to fear Indians, they will never again dominate, their numbers will fall to 27 per cent of population in another 20 years.

It is your own leaders who have been rooting you, e.g. Fijian Holdings A-plus shares, and Bainimarama of course. It is they you should fear most. But it is easier and safer to blame the Indian - justification can be found for it even in the scriptures, I suppose.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Indian Man for your insight. Not an issue of fear, it is annoyance and i am sure there will be a hundred more years of that. It is as if the fijian military are now full time mercenaries in their own country. I don't for second believe they have any interest in a Fiji for Indians, but amusiningly Indians do?!! Good luck with that when they turn on you, again. Perhaps you should ask the military thugs to ask all those that have fled to come back.. I don't think so.
Anonymous said…
yeah and there is no TRUE FREEDOM or TRUE DEMOCRACY under Bainimararma either under him and his cronies.
Fiji Man said…
Vinaka Fijian man.

Indians were duped by Bainimarama - it is easy to dupe poor people regardless, of race. Fijians were duped by Rabuka, Speight, Qarase, their chiefs, church leaders, who tapped into thir primordial feelings, whether you accept it or not. Many Indians and Fijians are dirt poor due to years of corruption and poor governance. $5 a week will make a big difference for them. So if someone promises to end corruption and give them a minmum wage, they will naturally support that person.

The Rabukas, Chaudhrys and Bainimaramas promised the wold to the people. But they are the only ones who benefited from their actions. Ordinary Fijians or Indian are not one cent better off.

'We have won', said Rabuka after the 1987 coup. In reality, the only people who won were rambo and his elite backers. As a nation we are poorer than we used to be. But is is very useful to couch your power grab in racial terms because people will fall for it all the time, especially poor, desperate people.

Military is not a mercenary, military is there for itself and other elites who control it, many Fijians are part of the regime, benefiting from it and propping it up, but all you see is Indian when in fact Fijians control everything and indians are finished a a political force.

If you have a gripe wit the military, sort it out with them instead of finding the easy target, Indian. This is the whole problem, everything is seen through the prism of race.

I suppose we can't really be blamed. we were born into the system.
wati s said…
we now have, thanks to this regime, a new breed of elites that will have immunity and can't be touched no matter what they have done and what we find out later...and oh dear, aren't they oh so arrogant and dictatorial. So what has changed?
Anonymous said…
@ Wati
The old elite are desperate to get back. What has changed is that they are supported and befriended by powerful international allies who also want the old elite back, racist or not, corrupt or not. After all our elite is better than the new elite which we cannot control or submit to our will. The old elite were like our children, bribed easily with aid money and the promise of international jobs, and controlled in order to maintain the power of the multinationals.
wati s said…
that is a fascinating insight into pro-regime logic... so the 'bribed with aid money' comment is aimed at the Chinese and the current bunch of crooks?
Anonymous said…
Where was democracy when Qarase was implementing policies for i-taukei only. The voice of young people must be heard!!
Anonymous said…
Oh so we are back to 'Qarase was worse' argument. How novel. Six years on this is their only comparison. You may well say we are better than Libya under Gaddafi.
Anonymous said…
They certainly are slow learners and lack logic. It is easy to see why certain parts of the world are going backwards at an alarming rate?

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