Political Parties Need New Strategies

Dr Alumita Durutalo (left)

We cannot rush this process but we can educate people

By Alumita Durutalo
July 9, 2013 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by:
The old political parties have to rethink strategies and broaden their reach ahead of next year’s general elections, says academic expert Dr Alumita Durutalo.  And all parties need to have employment creation as a key platform to attract the new, young voters, she says.

Dr Durutalo recently joined the Indigenous Studies and Pacific Islands Studies programmes at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Previously at the University of the South Pacific, Dr Durutalo lectured in Politics and International Relations. One of her courses was on Political Parties, Elections and Democracies in the Pacific.
Here are her thoughts on the progress towards the elections – and how the parties shape up:
Views on registered parties
The formation of parties is a positive step towards the return to representative democracy in Fiji. Political parties play a major role in the process of democratization globally.

Parties are a microcosm of a society and society’s interests. They harness and unify the different and numerous interests that people have and present them in an attractive, realistic and achievable way.
Five or more parties expected to contest next year’s elections
If the new electoral law in Fiji allows for the formation of many parties then having five or more parties would be alright. I believe, that it would be up to the voters to determine which party they think will address their needs individually and collectively as a nation, if voted into power.
New strategies to appeal to voters
Parties will now have to think strategically to consider interests beyond ethnic enclaves. For example, FLP will now have to look beyond working class men like sugarcane farmers and also address the plight of all working and non-working (non-salaried) people.
SODELPA on the other hand has to focus beyond the vanua boundaries and think of the interest of the nation as a whole.
The same applies for NFP. They have to look beyond their normal Indo-Fijian business group and think of the nation as a whole.
Views on the proportional representation
Proportional Representation voting systems in their three forms of: Party List, Mixed-member Proportional and Single Transferable Vote are strong in the sense they normally fulfill a number of things such as:
  • ·providing more accurate representation of parties
  • ·A better representation for political and racial minorities
  • ·Fewer wasted voted
  • ·Better representation of women
  • ·A high chance of facilitating majority rule
What about independent candidates?
Again, the same applies. If independent candidates can prove to the people that they have a workable solution, then they can be voted in.
Constant change to our voting system
Fiji is not the only country that is constantly changing its voting system. Any system should be changed to suit the reality on the ground.
Voting along racial lines
Given Fiji’s political history, that it was not a settler colony like Australia or New Zealand, it will take time to move away from ethnic voting.
We cannot rush this process but we can educate people, particularly the younger generation on the benefits of moving away from ethnic voting.
Prime Minister’s proposed party
I believe it is not too late to form any party now because at the end of the day it is the voters that will decide. In 1987 for example, the Alliance Party did not expect to lose elections, judging by the number of voters that went through their stalls.

But they were surprised when they lost. Voting through democratic elections is an individual process whereby the voter becomes very powerful on voting day and they can either make or remove a leader instantly through their voting power.
Appealing to new voters
It is the party that can provide the collective needs of young voters. For example, unemployment amongst youths in Fiji, including graduates, is quite high right now.
Parties should come up with solutions on how to create employment for youths.
Last words
Any leader in Fiji should be voted in on the basis of his or her capability to lead a nation and not just an ethnic group. The outcome of any democratic election should be respected and voters can use their voting power to remove unwanted leaders and install desirable leaders.


Anonymous said…
The notion that there would be free and fair elections in Fiji is ridiculous: Every action of the regime including the last attack on the registered parties makes this clear.
Babra Malimali said…
It looks like you are here to advocate FLP or SDL .

Think positive, if you have the guts

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