Parties Gang Up On SDL, Labour
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by Mithleshni Gurdayal, USP journalism graduate
SUVA (Pacific Media Watch): Smaller Fiji political parties have ganged up and given their last preferences to caretaker prime minister Laisenia Qarase's Soqosoqo ni Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) and the Fiji Labour Party (FLP), the Daily Post reports.
The ganging up was similar to what happened in the 1999 general election, when Sitiveni Rabuka's Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) and the National Federation Party (NFP) were snubbed by other parties in the sharing of preferences.
Both SDL and FLP will have to take most seats outright in the first count if they want to win.
A key element in the preference-sharing for this election is the role played by the so-called Moderates.
One of the biggest beneficiaries, if the counting goes to preferences, could be Dr Tupeni Baba's New Labour Unity Party (NLUP), a player in the Moderate camp.
The NLUP has received second and third preference of most major parties in the Moderate group.
But some parties are dealing with preferences on a seat by seat basis, allowing greater flexibility so that their preferences can better reflect political realities and candidates' individual choices.
People are learning how to manipulate the preferences to their advantage better than in the 1999 general election.
The FLP seems secure in the Indo-Fijian communal seats, but with the proliferation of Fijian parties, the SDL is not in the same fortunate position with respect to the Fijian communal votes.
Still, what has happened is that there is a greater ganging up against the FLP.
Almost all the parties, including the SDL, Conservative Alliance (CA), NLUP, NFP SVT, Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party (VTLP), Bai Kei Viti (BKV), Dodonu ni Taukei and Veikotoni Lewenivanua Vakarisito (VLV), have put the FLP as their last choice on the preference list.
In the 1999 general election, some Fijian parties preferred the FLP to the SVT.
On this occasion, Fijian parties are keeping preferences among themselves and are pushing the FLP out.
* The general election is from August 25-September 1.