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Former Fiji Labour Party member and minister Krishna Datt says while voting along non-racial lines is a healthy objective, he fears that may not be achieved in the 2018 General Election.
And Datt says results from the 2014 election indicate majority of voters on racial lines can still switch allegiance according to how they perceive their needs are being met.
“In this coming election I fear it is going to be very solidly along those racial lines, we may all talk about being non-racial which is a healthy thing, a healthy objective to achieve in the future,” Datt said.
“And it has been reflected once in about 80 per cent of Fijians of Indian descent voting for the FijiFirst party in the last election does indicate that people can cross the line when it does suit their economic and security.
“But by and large that vote is till floating. One cannot take that for granted it can move back." He added some survey results indicated up to 40 per cent of iTaukei votes went to FijiFirst as well.
“Now that's a significant number,” Datt said.
“Now it tells us that the ground under iTaukei unity of the past is shaking.
“That tells us younger people or even older people are beginning to rethink their attitude about where their bread and butter lies.”
Datt said any party hoping to win Parliament would have to abandon extremist views and garner votes from a wide cross section of society.
“So any opposition party will not only have to get the votes of the Fijians of Indian descent, they will also have to get the iTaukei vote as well,” he said.
“Manifesto platforms will have to be fairly neutral.
“This has been one of the good things that have come out of the new elections, that all parties will have to now shed their extremist style of getting votes.”
National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said while race was a fact of life, it had not prevented Fiji from being a peaceful multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious nation where people lived and worked side by side and co-exist peacefully.
“Most importantly, issues affecting the people are clearly non-racial as the recent Tebutt poll clearly shows,” Prof Prasad said.
“The electorate wants sound and sensible leadership to resolve the two most pressing issues affecting them.
“These are the debilitating cost of living and the depressing lack of decent employment.
“The NFP is well placed to resolve these because our policies have always been non-racial and focused on equality, dignity and justice for all our people.”
Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the concept was not new and he had been vigorously pushing for a united front for some time now, even before the 2014 election.
“This is why the United Front for a Democratic Fiji (UFDF) was formed in 2012 to create a joint platform for the 2014 General Election. It eventually fell apart because certain political parties wanted to fight the election on their own,” the former PM said.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
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