1 Apr 2022
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) held its 3rd panel discussion to raise awareness on electoral campaigning on 31 March 2022, at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.
The activity was implemented under the DF led project "Building Public Confidence in Fiji through Civil Society Action" that is funded by UKAid. With framing remarks and moderated by Dialogue Fiji Programme Officer, Dzoshua Yee, the panel addressed two questions; how to become an effective candidate in the upcoming general elections and how to fundraise for elections, which was followed by a question-and-answer session. DF Executive Director, Nilesh Lal offered the welcome remarks, in which he outlined the aim of the project, which the panel discussion series forms part of. The two-hour long hybrid event, attended by members of political parties, youth groups, civil society organisations and faith-based organisations, both online and in person, accommodated two panelists; Mr. Aman Nath, the Country Coordinator (Fiji), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Ms. Leonie Morgan, a governance and public policy consultant. Nath’s presentation centered on the mechanics that makes one an effective candidate in the elections whereby he shared useful insights on how election strategies can be developed especially with regards to the current electoral framework and system.
“To become an effective candidate standing in elections, one must understand the electoral system and subsequent legislations relating to it. The candidate should have a comprehensive knowledge on the political history of the country; which essentially should include Fiji’s political history from post-independence to date,” Nath emphasised.
“Groundwork is necessary as well since it is the springboard to propel you in your electoral endeavors with a consistent engagement with constituents and potential voters.”
She emphasised essentially on how to efficiently fundraise for electoral campaigns.
“It is seen that campaign financing is one of the biggest obstacles faced by candidates that limits their potential to promote their ideas and strategies. Majority of the funding would come from self-financing, including contributions from family members. However, donations from individual citizens, friends or businesses are also good alternatives, provided one knows the techniques around it,” she said. “Communication and advocacy is key in electoral campaigning, when you talk to people in communities, that person would tell someone else how good of a candidate you are, which shows the power of words, sometimes this can be as simple as a conversation with an acquaintance, which doesn’t need ‘much’ funding.”
Candidates who contested in the 2018 Fijian elections participated in the discussion after the speakers’ presentation where they shared their candidacy journey and the implication of rockstar candidates (popular candidates) and the importance of such panel discussions in enlightening the aspiring candidates to better promote themselves as potential leaders of the country. A participant from Deaf Consultancy Pacific raised his concern in regards to whether there would be a day when a person with special needs or intersectional sexuality would be invited by a party to be part of their electoral campaign or the party itself whereby, he advised the aspiring candidates to walk towards an inclusive society.