August 23, 2013

Political scientist says Fiji electorate change is regime genius

Posted at 01:45 on 23 August, 2013 UTC

A political scientist in New Zealand says the changes to Fiji’s electoral system are a stroke of genius favouring the Prime Minister.

Jon Fraenkel, from the Victoria University of Wellington, says the new constitution may not be the final one as there is a provision included allowing changes before the end of this year.

He says the new open-list system of proportional representation and the dumping of the regional constituencies means the parties, not the people, will decide the order of candidates entering the Parliament.

Jon Fraenkel says the previous system made the regime leader vulnerable in next year’s election, and the change allows more control.

“What’s ingenious is that they have put in a system that treats the whole country as a single constituency, so you’re going to have a gigantic tablecloth ballot paper. Presumably you’re going to have Frank Bainimarama somewhere up near the top and he’s going to be able to use his personal following to get a hell of a lot of votes. Much more than what would be required to get one person elected.”

Jon Fraenkel of Victoria University

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