Ratuva: SODELPA ‘needs to address internal issues’

Professor Steve Ratuva says if the Coalition Government is strong, resilient and lasts, "this will reflect well as a future model for coalitions in Fiji. Pictured are, from left, Professor Biman Prasad (NFP), Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka (PAP), Ratu Manoa Roragaca (SODELPA president) and Deputy Prime Minister Viliame Gavoka SODELPA) after signing their coalition agreement in Suva in December last year. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) will need to innovatively address its internal issues as a party while ensuring that the coalition Government works for the sake of the country.

This is the view expressed by renowned Fijian academic Professor Steven Ratuva.

“Fiji’s current coalition experiment has great implications for the future of Fiji’s democracy because governments in the foreseeable future under our constitutionally-prescribed Proportional Representation (PR) system will most likely be in the form of coalitions,” the director of the University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies said.

He said a large number of countries which used the PR system had coalition governments.

“Thus we have to make sure that this coalition works by being strategic and smart about having a watertight agreement between the coalition partners as well as making everyone happy through give and take compromises.

“This is challenging, especially when you still have fractures and differences within SODELPA, an important partner.

“SODELPA will need to innovatively address its internal issues as a party while ensuring that the coalition works for the sake of the country.”

The PR system was introduced by the Bainimarama-led regime which overthrew the democratically elected Laisenia Qarase government in December, 2006.

The 51 members of Parliament after the 2014 General Election were elected from a single nationwide constituency by open list proportional representation with an electoral threshold of five per cent.

The seats were allocated using the d’Hondt method.

Prof Ratuva made the comments in relation to recent developments where SODELPA general secretary Lenaitasi Duru claimed senior party members were unhappy with government statutory board member appointments by the coalition Government.

Mr Duru also claimed that if the coalition Government did not honour the agreement, SODELPA would not be bound by it.

SODELPA leader Viliame Gavoka, however, has said the party remained committed to the deal it struck with The People’s Alliance and National Federation Party that resulted in the formation of the coalition Government.

He said the “vast majority” of the Fijian people wanted the coalition Government to prevail.

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