What Support Does Bainimarama Have?
It is difficult and probably impossible to gauge the level of support for the Bainimarama government and its prospects of winning the 2014 election.
Its opponents claim they have the support but there's no way of gauging this either. Votes cast in the 2006 election may be cast very differently in 2014.
"Navosavakadua" writing in the relatively well balanced anti-blog Fiji Today, thinks the PM is assured of 27% of the vote due to the "Stockholm syndrome," the condition that causes victims to identify with their captors. "If so", he writes, "what this means is that the highest vote he can hope for is 27% because the rest of us do not feel grateful to our captor." My view would be that with this supposed "bedrock" support —and the support that Navosavakadua does not acknowledge— the PM should be well over the 50% mark. But we are both guessing.
Surprised that 90% supported FB
What we do have is the occasional informal 'survey' such as the one made as a comment on my recent Ratu Joni posting. The writer said that when he was in his home town in the West, he was surprised that 90% of those he asked said they supported FB and his party. They mentioned stability, assistance to the poor, school fees and the elderly, infrastructure, the decline in crime and equality for all Fijians as their reasons.
There is also the regular news that one village, settlement or tikina after another says it will support Bainimarama. But, again, this may be, as his opponents claim, only because they hope to benefit from the Government's development activities. Once the road, bridge, telecentre or other benefits are in place, they may revert to their earlier loyalties. For the moment, all we can do is report what is being reported.
In the last week Government had support from the Yasawas that I reported on Monday
Now we have reports from Tailevu North, formerly a Speight and SDL stronghold, and Ba province.
Three elders from Delasui and Navunisole villages and Namalata tikina in Tailevu North said they want the changes being brought about by the Bainimarama Government to continue because past governments had used favouritism as a weapon to gain the support of the people and to put in place changes for only some.
They wanted a new type of leadership; one that was truly people-oriented. “We the people of Namalata would like this leadership to continue and for that we will vote for the Prime Minister and his party to lead the country after the 2014 general elections,” Ratu Isaia said.
Mr Kalou said his people supported the new leadership displayed by the Prime Minister. “I must admit that we now have a leader that cares for all Fijians,” The "special treatments given only to some chiefs by past governments had ended. The Prime Minister had treated all Fijians equally and this, he said, “is the way forward the people of Navunisole. This is why we will vote for Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama and his party for the new government during the 2014 elections."
Ratu Mikaele said he supported the words of Mr Kalou and Ratu Isaia and for his people they were receiving Government help; something that they were denied in past years. He said past governments had their own people to look after and the majority were left in the dark.Now we have a new political direction that had the support of the people. People in the rural areas now having access to clean drinking water, electricity and good roads. He said they were now also provided with good health care and quality education.
In Ba, people living in Tauvegavega and Koronubu settlements in Ba are reported to support the new constitution and Government initiatives to assist farmers. according to Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni, who visited them last week. The Minister said that for the first time ever Fiji’s Constitution has incorporated social issues, the rights and interests of the persons with disabilities .. children and senior citizens."
Koronubu is a multicultural sugar-growing area with 765 sugarcane gangs, vegetable growers and dairy farmers. District advisory councillor Deo Sharan said the people in the settlement, where "everyone lives in peace and unity", support the new Constitution. They are grateful for the bus fare scheme, social pension scheme and government’s commitment towards addressing the plight of sugarcane farmers. "We support the Bainimarama government and we hope to see this government continue for the many years to come,” he said.
Tauvegavega Women’s Group president Mrs Kelera Drodro welcomed the inclusion of the rights of all Fijians, including women, in the new constitution. "Women contribute towards national development and it’s important that they read and understand the new Constitution. The new Constitution treats everyone equally and there is no discrimination based on race or gender. Everyone is seen equally and for the first time. This is really encouraging”.
Yes. They could just be trying to please the Minister, but ....