Party wins political fight with rugby campaign-style approach
Voting in Fiji’s 2014 General Election signaled overwhelming public support for incumbent Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and gave legitimacy to his unelected rule over the last eight years and unprecedented endorsement to the future “roadmap” he has laid out for the country. Prime Minister, Rear Admiral (retired) Voreqe Bainimarama played his political campaign like a veteran Sevens Rugby coach and the result was more than just a multitude of admiring fans. He won the 2014 Fiji General Election, some would say, almost single handedly for his Fiji First Party (FFP). From the campaign sidelines, it was evident that Bainimarama’s game-plan was simple: Give Fiji First’s opponents the space to smother themselves in their own internal political turmoils while his party focused on its trump card – Voreqe Bainimarama himself and his vision of an all-inclusive Fiji – equal citizenry, equal contribution to the country’s progress and equal responsibility for its economic status.
A sizeable portion of Fiji First’s campaign budget focused on television and newspaper advertising projecting Bainimarama’s leadership qualities and his now famous candidate number – 279. With Fiji Labour Party (FLP) leader, Mahendra Chaudhry redcarded even before the start of the political race, Bainimarama’s only real foe was the Burebasaga confederacy paramount chief, Na Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa, of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA). As forewarned in our September issue, newcomer, Biman Prasad, of the National Federation Party (NFP) proved a point as the “dark horse” leading a team of new and untested players. To the surprise of many, he came out third best – well ahead of the Fiji Labour Party.
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