Fijian general election, 2014
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politics and government of
After the military coup that occurred on 5 December 2006, it was announced that elections would be held "hopefully in 12 months, two years" by the new interim prime minister Jona Senilagakali. Later it was made clear that none of the ministers in the interim government would be allowed to contest the elections.
On 29 January 2007, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the coup leader and now the interim Prime Minister (having formally replaced Senilagakali on 6 January 2007) announced that the next election would be around five years away. He informed a visiting regional delegation on 30–31 January that elections would have to wait until a census had been complete, a new voters' roll compiled, and boundaries of electoral districts defined. Meanwhile, interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum suggested using electronic voting to shorten the period of time for counting votes (currently over ten days), and thereby reduce the potential for election rigging.
Later, Bainimarama announced that the election system would be changed to abolish the race-based constituencies and that elections would be held in 2010. It was later clarified that the interim administration has no mandate for electoral and constitutional reform, as such changes have to go through the parliamentary process; as such, the 2010 election will be held under the current race-based system, but Bainimarama stated he wished that the next government change the electoral system. In mid-June 2007, the Bainimarama gave in to demands from the European Union, Australia and New Zealand to hold polls by 28 February 2009; he also requested assistance with election preparations.
By contrast, Bainimarama said that he has no intention of taking part in the election.
In March 2008, responding to regional pressure for concrete evidence of his commitment to hold elections in 2009, Bainimarama argued:
- "Elections are central to democracy but they are not always, on their own, a magic or quick-fix solution. How can an election, on its own, make a difference when it is based on divisive and race based communal electoral arrangements? How can an election, on its own, solve the deep differences that our constitution has perpetuated between the different races in our country? Unless there are fundamental reforms, how can an election succeed where it will take us straight back to the grimy old politics of self interest, cronyism and scam mongering?"
In April 2008, Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry stated that it was necessary to complete and implement the People's Charter for Change and Progress before any elections are held. In May, Commodore Bainimarama stated that elections would not be held in March 2009 unless politicians agreed to the Charter.
Ousted Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi has remarked that the next election is likely to be won by a "a Fijian-dominated political party" (meaning indigenous-dominated), and has asked what the military would do in such a case.
Bainimarama has stated that Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party will be authorised to take part in the election, but that, if elected, Qarase would have to abide by the People's Charter. He would not be authorised to introduce or re-introduce policies -such as the Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill- which Bainimarama perceives as racist. The commodore warned Qarase publicly that doing so would result in a new coup: "If you do it, I'll remove you." In March 2010, however, Bainimarama stated that "any politician who has played a role in the country's politics, since 1987" will be prevented from standing for election. The rationale was that "Fiji needs new politicians".
The Charter would serve as a guideline in this respect. Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has stated that "the People’s Charter sets a trend or course for which the people of Fiji should actually assess political parties on and political parties that are essentially try [sic] to contest elections purely based on ethnic politics would not be entertained by the people of Fiji".
Date of Elections
In April 2009, the government announced that elections would be held "by September 2014". Bainimarama reiterated this in July, specifying that the elections would be held under the provisions of a new Constitution, which would eliminate institutionalised ethnic-based voting. The new Constitution might also amend the number of seats in Parliament, and possibly abolish the Senate.
In February 2010, a petition requesting elections by the end of the year was reportedly supported by 600,000 signatories and presented to the government. Commodore Bainimarama responded that an early election would not be "practical and realistic": "The implementation of the fundamental changes and reforms captured in the People’s Charter and which are now being implemented under the framework of the Roadmap – this is the only plan – or priority for Fiji. It is a plan that is objective of a better Fiji - where all benefit and not just the elite few – as has been the case previously." He dismissed what he called "irresponsible demands and proposals of selfish individuals and groups that run counter to the Charter and the road-map".
In March 2011, New Zealand Foreign minister Murray McCully announced New Zealand would lift its travel ban on members of the Fiji administration if the government committed to holding elections in 2014, and allowing "all stakeholders [...] to participate and not only those favoured by the regime". Until then, New Zealand had insisted on earlier elections. Fiji Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola replied the Fiji government was "committed to ensuring that a good and fair election is conducted" in 2014.
On 30 June 2012, voter registration for the 2014 elections officially kicked off in Suva. A few days later, a Western diplomat confirmed that Fiji is currently on-schedule for elections in 2014: "It seems fairly clear now that there will be elections of some description in Fiji in 2014. The real question is the extent to which those elections meet minimal international standards for being free and fair. Crucial to answering that question is seeing whether everyone is allowed to compete, and the media and civil society are able to operate in a minimally unimpeded manner."
Finally, on March 23th of 2014 the government announced that the elections were going to take place the 17 of September of that year, day to be set as a national holiday.
Political Parties to run in the elections
As of July 8th 2014, the following parties were registered to participate in the elections:
- Fiji Labour Party
- National Federation Party
- Social Democratic Liberal Party
- People’s Democratic Party
- One Fiji Party
The elections will be held using the open list form of party-list proportional representation using the D'Hondt method in one nationwide constituency consisting of 50 seats. There is a threshold of 5% of the vote for a list to gain representation.
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