by Professor Wadan Narsey (30 March 2014)
(with minor corrections in blue below)(31 March 2014)
The ELECTORAL DECREE 2014 (DECREE NO. 11 OF 2014) is finally out, suggesting that voting will be a nightmare for voters.
There will be one national constituency to elect 50 parliamentarians in a proportional system, based on “Open Lists” (another article on that).
Even before the Decree was issued, Bainimarama stated on his campaign trail that voters will choose from 250 candidates from five political parties (presumably with each party putting forward 50 candidates).
But the Schedule at the end of the Electoral Decree 2014 indicates the possibility of 280 candidates (presumably also allowing for 30 Independents).
The Decree expects that the voter will face one massive ballot paper, with 280 squares, with each square having a number between 135 and 414. In the booth, and also publicized all around the country, will be listed all 280 candidates, with their names, photos and numbers.
The numbers, between 135 and 414, will be randomly allocated to the candidates and has to be remembered by the voters.
|The new look "Lotto" lballot paper that every Fijian will be given 2 mins to vote from|
The ballot paper will not have names, or photos, or party symbols. Only numbers.
The voting nightmare
There are hundreds of thousands of voters throughout Fiji, who may have great difficulty in finding their preferred candidate on such a large ballot paper with 280 names and numbers.
Some political parties or candidates might quite sensibly think that they could help their supporters to take a small piece of paper, with the number of their preferred candidate written down.
But sorry, Section 52 (2) of the Electoral Decree states:
A decent law-abiding citizen of this country, exercising his or her right to make an informed choice in the election by taking a piece of paper into the polling booth to help him or her to vote, can be searched, on suspicion, like a common criminal?
AND FURTHERMORE, if any such material is found on them, Section 52 (4) further warns,
The contemptuous charade continues
But we should not be surprised any more by this Bainimarama/Khaiyum Regime’s antics.
For this is an unelected military dictatorship, which removed a lawfully elected government in 2006, and ruled us without our permission and without anyone voting for them, for eight whole years.
But they threaten decent law-abiding voters that if they innocently take a piece of paper into the polling booth to help them vote for their preferred candidate for the first time in eight years, they may be fined $50,000 and jailed for 10 years.
It would be a joke, if it was not such a nightmare.
This Regime has ignored all recommendations from political parties and the general public for far more sensible, understandable, and workable proportional electoral systems (such as local constituencies with a small number of candidates, who voters could easily identify with and choose from).
Instead, through the advice of a secret scheming cabal of shadowy collaborators, this Bainimarama Regime has thrust this electoral nightmare on our people through this Electoral Decree 2014.
All that the freedom loving people of Fiji and other political parties can do is grit their teeth and see where peaceful participation in this pathetic electoral charade takes them.
Addendum: some sick jokes
Joke 1: what if voters simply write their candidate’s number on some hidden part of their body, which they can look at, inside the privacy of the polling booth? Will all voters be strip-searched by the police?
There are lots of other sick jokes in the 2014 Electoral Decree.
Joke 2 : from the Decree, section 115 states:
Joke 3 : Section 63 (2) (d) states that in the In the 48 hour period prior to polling day and on the polling day until the close of polling at all polling stations, it is strictly prohibited for any person to—
Does this Decree effectively gives the Bainimarama Regime the draconian authority to monitor all our phone calls, emails, and Internet usage, and conduct electronic surveillance on citizens that infringes on their basic human right to privacy?
Joke 4 Section 113 Prohibition on use of State resources to campaign
Joke 5: Section 27 (2) the nomination of an independent candidate is not valid unless it is accompanied by
The Regime and other political parties will know exactly who are your supporters, who they can target in whatever way they want.
Just as they can target the 5000 persons who sign up as “supporters” of political parties.