Power of Voting: Who will win the forthcoming 2022 Fiji elections?

Fiji has witnessed four constitutions (1970, 1990, 1997 and 2013) and four political upheavals, two in 1987, one each in 2000 and 2006.

By Dr Sakul Kundra

Fiji, considered the Paradise in the Pacific, is moving ahead with the election. As per the historical discourse, the elections in Small Islands Pacific nations have also brought some uncertainties and apprehensions.

Fiji has witnessed four constitutions (1970, 1990, 1997 and 2013) and four political upheavals, two in 1987, one each in 2000 and 2006. After Fiji’s youngest Constitution was formed, the nation witnessed two elections (2014 and 2018) as a part of the democratic process.

- Advertisement -

Fiji is planning for the 2022 upcoming national election that is expected to be strongly contested. As per the 2022 General election till date stats, there are 689,784 registered voters and an arrangement of 1,468 polling venues and 9 Registered Parties.

Image source: Fiji’s PM Frank Bainimarama (Twitter)

The victorious 2018 and current government party FijiFirst will look forward to repeating their performance by winning the elections for the third time. This is the third election since Hon. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama restored democracy in 2014.

In the 2014 elections, FijiFirst won 32 seats; SODELPA got 15 seats, and National Federation Party won 3 seats. Followed elections in 2018, where FijiFirst repeated its victory by winning 27 seats and SODELPA with 21 seats and the National Federation Party with three seats.

Fiji’s parliament has a term of 4 years, where the President, on the advice of the Prime Minister, issues a writ for a new election after the expiry of each four-year term.

The Fiji Electoral Commission is in charge of organizing the elections to conduct free and fair elections. Its website notes:

- Advertisement -

“The Electoral Commission is constituted as an independent, non-partisan authority that has responsibility for the registration of voters and the conduct of free and fair elections in accordance with written laws governing elections in Fiji. The Electoral Commission is responsible for receipt and returning of the Writ, voter registration and maintenance of the Register of Voters, voter education, candidate registration, settlement of electoral disputes, including disputes relating to or arising from nominations, but excluding election petitions and disputes subsequent to the declaration of election results and monitoring compliance with any written law governing elections and political parties.”

Image source: Mohammed Saneem, Supervisor of Elections for Fiji (FEO website)

Members are elected by a secret ballot, and anybody over the age of 18 may register to vote.

“The election of members of Parliament is by a multi-member open list system of proportional representation, under which each voter has one vote, with each vote being equal in value, in a single national electoral roll comprising all registered voters.”

Image source: National Federation Party leader Prof. Biman Prasad with Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka who is the leader of The People’s Alliance party (Twitter)

The largest opposition party is Social Democratic Liberty Party, which will be planning to turn the table around in the upcoming election. Another opposition party is the National Federation Party, one of the oldest parties to contribute constructive criticism. Another party that emerged in the 1980s and has been raising issues of national importance was Fiji Labour Party. Other parties included the All People Party, New Generation Party, The People’s Alliance, Unity Fiji, and We Unite Fiji Party.

As Nikki Reed stated, “Young people need to vote. They need to get out there. Every vote counts. Educate yourself too. Don’t just vote. Know what you’re voting for, and stand by that.” 

Democracy is an ideal form of system where the citizens get the right to choose their representative with the ‘power of a vote’ that brings transformation towards electing a candidate or party that works towards maximising the social/public welfare of the nation. Voting is the fundamental right in any democracy, which affirms the principle of citizens governing themselves with free choice.

Election plays a critical role in a democracy that is conducted at regular intervals with stipulated procedures of the voter list, casting a vote, counting votes, and declaration of election results regulated and organized usually by an independent body. 

The responsibility of casting a vote is on the shoulder of every citizen, especially the youth who have recently become eligible to exercise the ‘right to vote’.

Voting helps in empowering the citizen to become a part of the election. Participation in an election is more than merely a value as it expresses a preference, choice, opinion, and right to use the constitutional right. Every registered voter needs to be aware of their rights and responsibilities to exercise their voting right.

In conclusion, I would quote Abraham Lincoln’s statement, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” Thus, the voters need to be agile and informed about the national election and all registered voters should objectively cast a vote. Free and fair elections are essential to exercise democratic rights.

Contributing Author: Dr Sakul Kundra is an Associate Dean (Research) and Assistant Professor at the College of Humanities and Education, at Fiji National University. The views expressed are his own and not of his employer. Email dr.sakulkundra@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The Australia Today is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts, or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Australia Today and The Australia Today News does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.