19 Sep 2005

Discussions to continue in Fiji for possible opposition coalition

3:31 pm on 19 September 2005

The leader of Fiji's United General Party, Mick Beddoes, says he will continue talks with the Fiji Labour party this week over forming some kind of coalition prior to next year's elections.

He says the parties share broad objectives but they need to discuss specific issues like how preferences will be allocated and the number of candidates that would be fielded in certain constituencies.

Under Fiji's preferential system, if a candidate wins more than 50 per cent of a vote in an electorate, then there's a clear winner - but otherwise, second preference votes are counted and so on, until a result is achieved.

Voters choose how to rank candidates but are often guided by their own party's choice of preferences.

Mr Beddoes says this will be up for discussion.

"We need to form some kind of coalition with other parties because if you look at the constitution, it is designed to create multi-party governments. So, regardless of who wins, you're still going to have to invite others who have managed to get more than ten per cent of the threshold."

Mr Beddoes says the Fiji Labour party provides 28 of the 30 opposition MPs in the 71-seat parliament so the minor parties will be fighting hard to increase their representation.