Fiji poll race

  06 Mar 2018

SUVA, 05 MARCH 2018 (FIJI TIMES) — Some political parties in Fiji say they are confident of securing the support of undecided voters ahead of the 2018 polls.

Responding to the results of the latest Tebbutt-Times Poll on voting intentions, the National Federation Party (NFP), Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), Fiji Labour Party (FLP) and Unity Fiji have started work on strengthening their campaigns. [restrict]

According to the results of the poll on the public’s voting intention, a staggering 34 per cent said they were not sure who to vote for, 8 per cent declined to answer the question and 0.5 per cent said they did not intend to vote.

Thirty-two per cent said they would vote for FijiFirst, 22 per cent for SODELPA, 3 per cent for NFP and 1 per cent for FLP.

When looking only at the percentages of those who selected a party (removing the undecided voters), 56 per cent selected FijiFirst, 38 per cent SODELPA, 5 per cent NFP, 1 per cent FLP, 0.2 per cent Unity Fiji Party, and 0.1 per cent independent.

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said the poll did not reflect the level of support for the party.

He said the party was confident of securing the support of undecided voters and convinces them that change was coming by outlining their policies for the social, economic and political advancement of all people.

Prof Prasad said the party wanted the people of Fiji to earn a living wage, rebuild the country’s health, housing and education system and grow the economy.

“And we are sure that sooner rather than later the undecided voters will start thinking about who they will vote for.”

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka said the poll results were an important indication of the mood of the electorate.

“While eligible voters numbered about 540,000 citizens, the sample size of 1000 surveyed in the poll was small in comparison to the total population,” Rabuka said.

He commended those who were able to express their view, given the current environment with controls on freedom of expression and media freedom, since 2006.

He said this year was an important year for Fiji, with the political parties being at the crossroads.

“It will be a turning point and a fateful moment for all citizens of this country. We are at a crossroad in our history of development as individuals, as distinct ethnic communities and most importantly as a nation,” Rabuka said.

“We must make an informed and rational choice rather than a decision based on emotion. I urge all to have the courage to boldly vote according to their conscience.”

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the poll indicated that a substantial number of voters were still undecided on who to vote for. He said there was a definite move away from the ruling party and the opposition parties accounted for 60 per cent of voters if the undecided voters were included.

“The polls substantiate our claim made last week that the people want a change from the FijiFirst Government in the next election,” Chaudhry said.

“We can see that government’s popularity has fallen quite sharply from what it was in previous polls.

“It is now down to a mere 32 per cent with just as many voters undecided on which party to vote for.”

He said FLP was confident of its support on the ground and expected to get positive results once campaign picked up momentum.

Unity Fiji leader Savenaca Narube said the revelation that the number of undecided voters had remained very high with only a few months before the election was a clear indication that voters were looking for an alternative political choice.

“Very importantly, the number of undecided voters has stayed at about the same level as the previous poll in 2017,” Narube said.

“If you include the eight per cent that declined to answer the question and the 0.5 per cent that did not intend to vote, this is a massive 43 per cent of voters who are still looking for a home.

“This number is larger than the support for any individual party.”

He said these undecided voters would therefore decide who the next government would be.

“One of the major reasons why we registered Unity Fiji six months ago was to offer voters an alternative political choice.

“Many voters may still not know who we are, what our manifesto looks like and who our candidates are. We are therefore letting people all around Fiji know of Unity Fiji.

“We aim to announce our first batch of candidates towards the end of March. Our manifesto will also be released soon.

“The result of this poll matches our consultations nationwide. The persistence of a large number of undecided voters is a direct result of the decline in the support of all the parties compared to the 2014 election results.”

Request for comments on the poll results sent to FijiFirst party leader Voreqe Bainimarama and general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and Fiji United Freedom Party leader Jagath Karunaratne last Tuesday via electronic mail (email) remained unanswered….PACNEWS [/restrict]