Independents can be successful - aspiring Fiji politician
An aspiring Fiji politician says independents can be successful in September elections despite restrictions.
An aspiring Fiji politician says despite restrictions imposed on independent candidates, with a well-funded and resourced campaign it is possible to succeed in the September elections.
The Electoral Decree says the nomination of an independent candidate must be accompanied by 1,000 voter signatures and needs to be approved by the Electoral Commission.
It also says independents must get five percent of the vote nationwide to get into government - the same threshold imposed on political parties.
Roshika Deo says while in most parts of the world independents have a lower threshold than political parties, getting five percent of the vote is doable.
She says her main concern is the requirement to submit the 1000 signatures during the nomination phase in August - just one month out from the election.
ROSHIKA DEO: If we submit the 1,000 signatures during the writ of nomination phase, then there's a very limited timeframe for them to get back to us if we need to collect more signatures, if some signatures have been dropped, or if there's some kind of issue. And it's a very small window timeframe before the writ of nomination phase finishes for us to be then confirmed as a candidate. So I think that the 1,000 signatures is fine, but they should have had that prior to the writ of nomination process, so that it doesn't become a burden on us with the limited timeframe.
MARY BAINES: So would you say it's quite hard for an independent to run?
RD: I think that for any candidates right now in Fiji, well most of the candidates of the political parties that are registered, and for any other aspiring candidate, it is hard, with the electoral system, with the new voting system.
MB: What would you like to see happen in Fiji politics?
RD: We all have been wanting to see a free and fair election. And that is something since the process started, it has not been free and fair for many reasons. We want to see people held accountable when political parties were registering. Under the political parties registration decree, there was a lot of limitations for them and there was a lot of burden on them. The right to participate in the government of your country whether directly or indirectly, or through your representatives, is a right which is protected. And I think that when people are unable to stand for elections, or unable to participate, then it is a concern. And then we've had the proposed political party Fiji First doing a lot of things that is in violation of the Electoral Decree.
The other thing that has been a concern, for us to even draft manifestos, it's really difficult with the way information is not available from the different government bodies and institutions. We have had the Public Accounts Committee that has been suspended. And there's a lot of information that we need to know. For example with social welfare, we need to know how many people are applying for social welfare, how many are being rejected and under what grounds, so that when we formulate policies of social welfare, we have that information to make a more informed policy. What's the current amount of public debt, exactly how much of it is made up of soft loans, what's the terms and conditions of these loans. All of us will be making policies with so much information being withheld from us, that could better inform our policies.
MB: With that being said, do you know kind of policies you would like to push?
RD: When we've been going to the communities and doing outreach, and gathering information, you know things around education is still a big problem. Social welfare, land, environmental issues, mental health issues, hospitals, also looking things like violence against women, minimum wage, micro-enterprises and also looking at informal settlements. We have a lot of things that we would be putting in our manifesto. And when I am a confirmed candidate, we will be officially using our manifesto and sharing it with the public of Fiji.
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