16 Oct 2018

Six political parties to contest Fijian elections

10:55 am on 16 October 2018

Two hundred and thirty four candidates representing six political parties have been approved to contest the country's elections next month, Fiji's elections authorities say.

Fiji Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem announces candidates for 2018 election

Fiji Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem announces candidates for 2018 election Photo: RNZ

Nine out of 243 nominees were rejected by the the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) which is responsible for verifying their eligibility.

The ruling FijiFirst Party, Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), and the National Federation Party (NFP), will go to the 14 November polls with a full line-up of candidates for the 51 parliamentary seats.

It's Fiji's second general election since the 2006 coup led by Frank Bainimarama who won two thirds of parliament in 2014 under a new electoral system.

The three major parties initially had one candidate each rejected for not meeting the requirements of Fiji's Electoral Act, however their replacement candidates were approved by the FEO yesterday.

The Labour Party, which has formed a partnership with the Freedom Alliance Party ahead of the elections, has 25 candidates, while Unity Fiji and HOPE have 28 candidates each.

Mr Saneem said parties with candidates who were not approved had until 4 pm today to appeal the decision.

Increase in women candidates, no independents

Meanwhile, 56 women will be vying for a seat in parliament - an increase of 20 female candidates compared to the last elections.

The increase is mostly due to the HOPE party's majority female field - 18 out of its 28 candidates are women.

FijiFirst and NFP have 10 female candidates each, SODELPA has 7, FLP has 6 and Unity Fiji has five.

No independent candidates are running, reflecting the challenge in meeting the five percent threshold to get into parliament.

In the 2014 elections, two independents attracted just under 1300 votes between them.

"This opportunity is there and in the last elections we had two independent candidates, this election we haven't had any," Mohammed Saneem, Elections Supervisor said.

"There was interest from a particular person, however he could not meet the requirements in time and it is an open opportunity for anyone who wishes to do so."

Under Fiji's open list proportional system , the proportion of votes a candidate receives determines the overall number of seats their party is allocated in parliament as well as their position on the party list.

The system was brought in by the military-backed government in 2014 in an effort to move away from a race-based voting system of communal constituencies.

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