Personalities More than Policies?

Fiji polls shaping up to be battle of personalities

Updated at 8:27 pm on 7 May 2014

An observer of Fiji politics says the Fiji election will mostly be a battle of personalities and leadership.
Three parties and one proposed party have now confirmed who will lead them in the September polls and the Labour Party is still to confirm Mahendra Chaudhry after his conviction last week.
Auckland University's Steven Ratuva says despite Labour being in a leadership crisis, there is now a core line-up of capable leaders for people to choose from who could be described as superstars in their own field.
Dr Ratuva says the new electoral system puts even more pressure on leaders to perform than in the past.
"First of all you only have one constituency and secondly voters will have to vote for only one person and that's where the party leader's popularity comes in so in terms of just attracting voters to a particular party you need somebody to be a superstar to solicit the votes. That's the whole psychology behind this electoral system."
Steven Ratuva of Auckland University.
The People's Democratic Party has elected former union chief Felix Anthony as its leader, former economics professor Biman Prasad is the leader of the National Federation Party, the indigenous chief Ro Temumu Kepa heads Sodelpa and the incumbent prime minister Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama leads the Fiji First party, which is awaiting registration.


Anonymous said…
I respectfully disagree with Steven: There will be no choice in the elections. How can anyone expect a fair election under the circumstances that prevail? The manager of the elections is the manager of a competing party. The incumbents dig deep into state coffers to hand out freebies, the media praises everything the regime does. The judiciary takes out any serious competitor with phoney charges and persecution.
Neocolonialism by ABC and Sean Dorney said…
My view of Ashwin Raj changed after I attended the seminar at USP. He is right. Sean Dorney's bullying behaviour in new Caledonia was disgraceful. How can he judge mood of entire nation based on the atmosphere in room with a handful of journalists? How patronising it that?Ashwin is absolutely correct. Not only is this neocolonialism, it is lazy, gutter level journalism. As Ashwin said, Fiji is is in a delicate, transitional phase. We don't need cavalier journalists like Sean Dorney.We heard earlier reports that Sean Dorney was slightly drunk, wagging his fingers at a PINA representative, and threatening to use his connections to withdraw aid from PINA. Typical Australian bullying. Is this how ABC journalists on assignment behave? Problem is ABC tried to save money by sending Sean both as reporter and PINA delegate. We suffer the consequences of this gross ethical breach by ABC. The biggest injustice is that Sean Dorney is still covering Fiji despite his obvious bias and emotional outburst. So much for ethics. Shame on you ABC. No wonder you in trouble with your government. Clean up your shit before talking about running workshops in Fiji.
Anonymous said…
Fiji shares a fundamental problem with its Pacific island neighbours: The population does not really embrace western style democracy. There is a widespread acceptance that the “Chief” rules, whether this chief has obtained power through hereditary succession, strong arm power grabs, political corruption or military coups. In contrast to most of its neighbours, Fiji’s poor democratic record is exacerbated by the existence of a overblown military which was boosted by the UN and never had any genuine role in protecting Fiji’s borders. In such an environment, it is only natural that military officers with overblown egos step into the role of the “Chief” because they can do so with impunity. The population bows to the new chief, aiming to be on the winners side and obtain some benefits from being obedient and accommodating. Add poor education and a general indolence and a picture of today’s Fiji emerges. The electorate sees the tussles between regime and opposition as nothing more than a bit of entertainment with an opportunity to indulge in a little bit of backstabbing come election day. The political elite that has been removed by military leaders has higher stakes as access to unearned income is all of a sudden denied. In Fiji, there are two reactions to this: Go over to the winner (as Chaudhry did in 2007) or beg the “International Community” to re-install them in positions of power. Against this background, there is little or no hope that the 2014 elections in Fiji produce any other result than the confirmation of the rule of the coup makers; in particular as the regime has pulled out all the stops to cripple the opposition. What is truly amazing is the fact that several opposition parties have decided to participate in the charade, knowing full well how this exercise in “true democracy” is being orchestrated by the regime.
Crosbie Walsh said…
Three thoughtful comments. This is what sets this blog above others.
Anonymous said…
Sean Dorney obviously can't get over his ban from Fiji. This is reflected in his journalism, and his abhorrent behaviour in New Caledonia. ABC please do the right thing and save your reputation. Pull Sean Dorney out of Fiji coverage. Give us someone unbiased, unemotionally involved, and with a fresh perspective. Sean Dorney's coverage is biased, vindictive, boring and predictable.
Anonymous said…
I don't understand the complaint that the AG is the Minister for elections so the elections will be unfair. In every government around the world there would be someone in the ruling government who would be in a similar position. In Australia it is the Minister of State currently Michael Ronaldson and he, or someone from the Liberal party, will be in that position all the way up till the next election. You have to have someone in the current government in such a position until the election. You might think this is unfair, but it is the same everywhere and Fiji is not an exception.
Anonymous said…
Fully agree that some government official needs to be in charge for elections. However, I have never ever heart that the leader of a competing party performs this role. Mature democracies also have truly independent election commissions (it would be a stretch to claim that for Fiji) and first and foremost mature democracy have independent media which very intensely scrutinise every move a government makes. You seem to be happy with the way things are going in Fiji and this is certainly your right. True democracy looks a bit different in my book.
Anonymous said…
Sure, the whole world can see through the scheming of the Fiji regime. However, those who believe that the “international community” or Fiji’s direct neighbors Australia and NZ will help those who oppose the dictatorship must be delusional. A look around the world will soon reveal that Fiji’s dictator is pretty safe and his human rights abuses will not trigger any action. Even regimes which commited crimes worse than what Bainimarama and Khaiyum did, get away with impunity. The latest UN report into human rights in North Korea laid out human rights abuses in stomach-turning detail: the torture, the deliberate starvation, the executions committed in a network of secret prison camps. The individual cases break the heart: the seven-year-old girl beaten to death over a few extra grains of food; the boy whose finger was chopped off for accidentally dropping a sewing machine in the factory where he was forced to work; and, most shocking of all, the mother forced to drown her just-born baby in a bowl of water. The report’s lead author, retired Australian judge Michael Kirby clearly hopes that now that the evidence is laid out, action will follow. “Now the international community does know, there will be no excusing a failure of action because we didn’t know. It’s too long now. The suffering and the tears of the people of North Korea demand action.”
It’s a similar story in Syria. Less than a month has passed since a report laid out comprehensive evidence of the suffering of detainees at the hands of the Assad regime. That report, like the latest one on North Korea, detailed murder through starvation, beatings and torture – complete with photographs of emaciated bodies. The authors noted chilling echoes of the Nazi crimes of the 1940s. Yet did that report spark a worldwide demand for action, with demonstrations outside parliaments and presidential palaces? It did not. The chief response was a global shrug. Maybe this is what it means to live in the post-intervention era. It makes today a good time to be a dictator, a butcher or the torturing head of a brutal regime. The world will let Bainimarama carry on abusing human rights – even when it knows exactly what is happening. So better be prepared to do something yourself rather than begging for help from outside.
Regime wankers said…
Are these personal attacks the best that the illegal regime Ministry of Disinformation and korvis can do? Just further evidence of the racist hate speech and delusional crap that emanates from this regime slurping facist blog.
Anonymous said…
I did not make any comment about being happy with the way things are going in Fiji. I just pointed out that the system in place in Fiji, with a member of the current government responsible for elections even though they will be contesting the upcoming elections, is the same system in place in other countries like Australia. So demanding he resigns just because he is also contesting the elections is a bit silly. Arguing that the election commission is not truly independent is another matter and not something I originally commented on. Definately might be possible, but again the same thing happens in other countries.

You also mention an independent media. Again debatable whether Fiji is fully independent, but that goes on in all countries. Note Liberals threatening ABC funding when they did not like boat people reporting, or Fox news coverage in the US when Goearge Bush was in charge. Overall I don't think Fiji is too bad, and much less biased than it used to be.

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